If your most recent credit card statement has left you with a post-Christmas financial hangover, CBC Music has collected some useful tips for cash-strapped classical music fans.
1. Stream concerts online
Forget about trying to find parking downtown and return that flight to Paris. In 2013, the cheapest way to take in world-class concerts is from the comfort of your home computer.
You don’t have to go far to find live concerts. CBC Music’s Concerts on Demand page is constantly being updated with new performances from across Canada. We recommend starting with the charismatic Eric Whitacre conducting the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Calgary Philharmonic’s bold new commission, Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation and the New Orford String Quartet taking on Beethoven’s most beloved string quartets.
Those willing to pay a nominal subscription can drop in on concert halls around the world. Medici is an online video streaming service that allows you to watch live concerts as they happen, or on demand after the fact. Catch classical music’s biggest names from halls like Auditorium du Louvre in Paris or drop in on the Verbier Festival in Switzerland.
Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall is another way to take in one of the world’s finest orchestras without leaving your computer. Subscription is around $20 for a month of live and archived concert viewing. You can also take in the highlights for free on their YouTube channel, including this recent video with Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin leading the orchestra in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.
2. Sample new albums and rediscover old favourites
Naxos Music Library is an online database of streamable albums with an enormous selection. Your closest public library likely has an account, or you can log in through Toronto Symphony’s "Beethoven on Demand."
You can also connect to one of CBC Music’s 10 classical streams at your computer or mobile device. Click "Classical" in the box on the right side of your screen for a list of the genres to stream. The Baroque stream is perfect for getting work done at your desk, and Essential Classics makes for enjoyable dinner music. If you’re in the mood for a chorus, join in on the newest stream in the CBC Music family that features exclusively choral music.
3. How to get cheap classical music tickets
If live-streaming sounds too complicated for you, and your love is live music, we've assembled some tips to get the best deals at the concert hall.
Students and youth have access to the best deals. If possible, befriend a student to take advantage of companion deals. Student promotions differ from location to location, but are available from almost every orchestra, opera company or concert series. The buzz is that the cheap seats at Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s hall are actually the best ones in the house. They're the "choir" seats that surround the stage and young folks love it because it gives you the perspective of an orchestra musician. Similar youth promotions in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, London, Ottawa and Halifax allow the under-30 set easy (and cheap) access to classical music.
The deals aren’t exclusively for youth, though. The Canadian Opera Company (COC) offers day-of tickets for those willing to stand or take a risk on unsold seats, all at a heavily discounted rate.
Still looking for good music that’s cheap? Orchestras like Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony have been experimenting with online couponing sites like Groupon to get you in the best seats in the house for cheap.
Another idea is to look up student ensemble concerts at your nearest university campus to catch the stars of tomorrow at an affordable price. You just might have an "I saw them when" moment!
4. Stay connected
Eagle-eyed music fans can be early birds in the know when it comes to free concerts or special ticket promotions. By following your closest symphony on Twitter, "liking" them on Facebook or subscribing to their newsletter, you can be the first to know about these deals. We’ve recently come across free concert series in Regina and Toronto’s COC just by subscribing to their newsletters.
5. Volunteer with benefits
Many orchestras, concert societies and festivals rely on volunteers for tasks such as ushering, ticket-taking or postering. In exchange for your time, you are often able to get free or discounted entry into the concert, not to mention a dose of feel-good karma from helping the arts in your community.
Do you have any tips for classical music done cheap? Let us know in the comments section below or by tweeting @CBCTempo.
Concerts on Demand
Sample Angela Hewitt and Andrea Oliva’s new Bach album