Exclusive: The concert that attracted 70% paying first-timers

Suspend your disbelief.

At the Halle Orchestra’s Priceless Classics concert on Sunday, all tickets sold within five hours and two in three of the audience had never set foot before in Bridgewater Hall.

Many were families with young children, drawn to a classical event by the promise of informality – and the option of paying what they thought the event was worth. We don’t have the revenue figures yet, but the concert broke the ice for a lot of Manchester people who would otherwise never think of attending the Halle.

Here’s how the Beethoven looked from a player-operated camera (starts at 0:45).
you all got a drink

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  • This warms my heart, reminds me of my first experience of live orchestra music.
    Late 1970’s, a free concert was presented at Town Hall (Brisbane, Australia).
    Me, a barefoot first year University student (Physics), wandering past and drawn in to the music.
    Hearing and seeing the individual instruments, the musicians, the wall of music surrounding me, filling me, it was wonderful! An experience that helped shape me.

    It could never happen today. Health & Safety issues (no bare feet), legal issues (pay our insurance), security issues (what’s in the backpack?), political correctness (get out weirdo).

    But I still carry that experience, and the music, in my heart.

  • I’ll be interested in the revenue figures. I live in a town with two orchestras and I see the attendance: dwindling and elderly virtually no matter what is programmed. But when occasionally the greater of these has a free concert, or some visiting orchestra gives a free performance, the attendance is massive and much more diverse. Free is attractive, especially in tough financial times. When people have to tighten their belts, discretionary spending is the first casualty, and entertainment top of that list.

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