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Posted at 6:01 AM ET, 02/ 4/2011

And about those chorister seats

By Anne Midgette

I've heard questions, ever since the beginning of this season, about why the chorus seats in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall -- the seats behind and above the orchestra, facing the conductor -- haven't been available to NSO ticket buyers. The official answer, it turns out, is prosaic. This wasn't a case of Eschenbach being picky about audience seating, or of a new Kennedy Center policy; according to a Kennedy Center spokesman, it's just that demand wasn't great for them and it looked bad to have them not entirely filled. (Though I must say I never noticed them looking empty. Were special measures taken to try to fill them?) The center will now sell these seats only when the concert is close to selling out, as was supposed to happen for last Saturday's Beethoven-Berg NSO/Eschenbach concert, when the seats, I'm told, were made available to ticket-buyers.

On other nights, the empty seats represent nothing more than a visible sign of a decline in ticket sales.

By Anne Midgette  | February 4, 2011; 6:01 AM ET
Categories:  Washington, random musings  
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I disagree completely. I hate having anyone in those seats. I have watched people fidget, talk repeatedly, and wave programs in the air. I find it incredibly distracting. My preference is that chorister seats be used for... chorus members. If I want to watch people move about around a stage I'll buy tickets to a play.

Posted by: SomeComment | February 4, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

In Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, chorus bench seats sell well and quickly, in part because they're as inexpensively priced as you can get in the hall. If they're not selling at the NSO, price is undoubtedly a big reason. These seats also provide a unique perspective on the conductor; thus, they're snapped up eagerly when Gustavo Dudamel is on the podium. As to SmartComment's comments: I don't know the sight lines of Kennedy Center but shouldn't you be focusing on the conductor and orchestra instead of worrying about the audience?

Posted by: BobTatFORE | February 4, 2011 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Anne, you were absolutely right in asking in paren, Have we ever seen them empty.

I have been going to nso concerts on a steady basis just a little longer than you switched from the NY Times. I have been attending twice or three times a week for just about every production, since 2005. Guess what? It was fairly filled up every time even then.

Did the kennedy center mention that they also raised the price, when they opened up chorister section last week for the first time this season? It is no longer 25, but $45 now.

On the "eye-sore" issued raised by SomeComment: I completely agree with Bob TatFORE.

If one focuses completely on the nso players, it is physically pretty challenging to notice, simultaneously , what patrons in the chorister section are doing. Try it, you will know what i meant.

We are actually there to listen to music, not watching people as etiquette experts.

Posted by: fleurfo | February 4, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

It is so nice to see that even in a classical music discussion forum, participants feel a need to turn one person's opinion into an opportunity to attack. What is wrong with you people? I find it distracting to have people immediately above and behind the orchestra. I'm allowed to have that experience. It is not a flaw on my part nor a condemnation of the people who sit there, perhaps fidgeting. I find it distracting. That you two decide that I'm (a) being inattentive at concerts... I'm not...I'm actually trying to pay attention without distraction... or (b) that I'm making etiquette comments ... I'm not... I've said I find it distracting not that I think they are bad people.... says a lot about you. Shame on you and your penchant for nastiness. Go look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why you choose to attack for no reason. Shame.

Posted by: SomeComment | February 4, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

SomeComment: Who's attacking whom? Your original comment was "I disagree completely. I hate having anyone in those seats," which was a pretty strong statement, to my eyes. The two of us who answered disagreed. I thought we WERE having a discussion; you obviously think otherwise. Would have felt less "attacked" if I had worded my last sentence, "Shouldn't someone who attends a concert be focusing ...?" If so, consider this an addendum.

Posted by: BobTatFORE | February 5, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

As I read these posts, it appears to me that SomeComment was indeed being attacked. Bob, you addressed SomeComment directly with "shouldn't you be focusing on the conductor and the orchestra instead of worrying about the audience?" and fleurfo, you accused SomeComment (indirectly) of "watching people as etiquette experts". These were stinging comments, and most unfair. I think SomeComment's point is valid, although I also sympathise with those who like the unique perspective one can get from chorister seats.

Posted by: RonF1 | February 7, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

The seats behind the orchestra should be priced so that even a student can afford them - ten bucks seems fair to me. Remember, nobody is going to get rich selling classical concert tickets. The point is to FILL those seats. That way, any movement from anyone in those sections will be less noticeable and less distracting. I don't get a chance to attend too many concerts as I am so busy playing them but when I do attend, I look at the players and listen to the music. Short of a stunningly and unbelievably beautiful woman, nothing can distract me.

Posted by: pronetoviolins | February 9, 2011 4:01 PM | Report abuse

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