Buy this track on iTunes ADD Add Favourite

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.


Landfill Harmonic
Concerts on Demand
Sample Angela Hewitt and Andrea Oliva’s new Bach album

Share this post

Classical music on the cheap: useful tips for music lovers on a budget

If your most recent credit card statement has left you with a post-Christmas financial hangover, CBC…


display   Oldest First |  Newest First
#1 posted by
on Jan 22, 2013

yard sales

Old Abe
#2 posted by
Old Abe
on Jan 23, 2013

@onlytony #1, YES

Derek Lindner
#3 posted by
Derek Lindner
on Jan 23, 2013

Old Abe, great album, I remember Jeep and Thanks for the peperoni, got me into classical.

I'll add thrift stores to Tony's, and if you got the gumption, wander into a pawn shop, they don't price for rarity, a cd is a cd, 5 bucks.I've got some of my greatest finds there, like Salerno-Sonenberg's debut and Takezawa's Elgar concerto.

Katherine Duncan introduced me to music competitions,like Honens and recently the QE Belqium where they have rounds from all years archived.

Last but not least the bargain bin.I'm a sucker for them and'll trade a brownbill for 15 I'm moderately interested in rather than 4 I really want.I get burned with that though. I love, but don't own the Faure piano Quartets.I have the Mendelssohn ones, they were cheaper, but not as good.

#4 posted by
on Jan 23, 2013

Thank you you tube!

#5 posted by
on Jan 24, 2013

One can enjoy wonderful music absolutely free -- by playing it oneself.  You don't have to be concert performance level to have rich musical experiences.  Whatever your level (and if it's beginner -- keep plugging away -- it's worth it), find like-minded amateur musicians -- they're everywhere! -- and make your own music together.  Playing music adds a dimension that one can't find at concerts or by listening to recordings.

display   Oldest First |  Newest First
Some streams are not available outside of Canada. If you are located in Canada, please Contact us and we'll respond as quickly as we can.

Login required

Oops - you have to be logged in to add to My Saved Items.