The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra had a slight upturn in attendance for music director Paavo Järvi's fifth season that ended early this month, the orchestra reported this week.
The orchestra's opening weekend - featuring Beethoven's Ninth, Beethoven bobbleheads and a "Get Your Beethoven On" marketing campaign - was the best-attended opening weekend in recent history.
How the orchestra is filling its seats has changed radically in the past decade. More than one-third of symphony seats sold this year (35 percent) were single tickets, as subscriptions continue to be a hard sell. And single ticket sales through the orchestra's Web site rose 13 percent. The orchestra reported that 22 percent of all symphony and Pops single tickets were sold via the Web.
For the 2005-06 season, average attendance inched up to 1,711, which means that about half of Music Hall's 3,400 seats were filled for the 53 concerts. The orchestra sold 7,084 subscriptions, up about 3 percent from last year. A four-concert Sunday afternoon subscription series targeting families grew 18 percent.
In October, the Cincinnati Pops became the first pops orchestra to tour in China, when it visited Beijing and Shanghai and concluded with performances in Singapore. The tour was partly a salute to Erich Kunzel, who celebrated his 40th anniversary with the symphony and Pops.
The Pops experienced crowds of more than 8,000 in each Chinese venue and filmed a concert to be shown to more than 1 billion people. But at home, both the average attendance and the number of fans buying subscriptions slid 4 percent. Single ticket sales dipped 11 percent.
The orchestra says the tour might be to blame for some of the attendance drop. While the Pops was in China, a performance of the musical "Jekyll & Hyde" drew poorly.
The orchestra is exploring reconfiguring Music Hall for performances and enhancing its public areas.
See Janelle's May 23 blog entry, Take a Poll, and add a comment about your favorite concert.