Sunday, 11 January 2009

What are the LSO Playing at?

On Friday evening, as I was riding down to London on the train and trying my best to ignore the screaming children down the aisle, I got an e-mail that would have made me spit out National Express's rather nasty tea (owing to the UHT milk they will insist on using; we can land on the moon, but fresh milk on a train is apparently not possible), had I been drinking it:

We are delighted to let you know that a list of the LSO 2009/10 season concerts is now available to browse and download from the LSO website in advance of online booking opening on Monday 12 January at 9.30am.

We are just putting the finishing touches to our new brochure but as one of the most valued members of our audience we want to make sure that you receive the information as soon as it is confirmed.


The emphasis is theirs, but it's convenient since it is the offending passage. Most other orchestra's haven't even announced their seasons for next year (the Philharmonia gave details in their last brochure but booking doesn't open yet), but already the London Symphony Orchestra expect me to buy tickets. Sorry, no dice.

I attend a lot of concerts, with a range of orchestras, and it's thus something of a logistical fight to work it all out, the more so for planning my trips down south, to make sure I take the maximum advantage of them. If I don't know what ENO or the Royal Opera are also doing, then why should I book (not to mention that I don't know if SCO or RSNO concerts will clash)?

Who, in January 2009, wants to be booking tickets for July 2010. For goodness sake, the Aldeburgh festival hasn't even published it's full programme for June this year!

Last year it was a little later - 11th February. I struggle to comprehend the logic, unless the orchestra is massively strapped for cash, as headline story on their website appealing for donations indicates they may be. Still, constantly moving the season earlier will not solve the problem, only delay it.

Anyone finding themselves in a similar position should take comfort from this fact: I did my block booking for their 2008/9 season at the end of August, some six months after booking first opened. I was able to get reasonably priced tickets to everything I wanted. I would note that someone I know was even able to pick up a ticket for tonight's Verdi Requiem (with Colin Davis and Christine Brewer) less than a month ago. I should think buying tickets will be even easier this year, given demand will doubtless fall due to the recession. I won't be bounced by the LSO in this manner, and others shouldn't allow themselves to be either.

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