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Mo' Mozart

Philharmonic promotion lures in new listeners

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The Philharmonic performs this Saturday and Sunday - at Sunrise Church.
  • The Philharmonic performs this Saturday and Sunday at Sunrise Church.

It's no secret that building new audiences is one of the biggest challenges facing classical music today.

With this in mind, the Colorado Springs Philharmonic is offering a sweet deal -- a free "companion" ticket for individuals who have never attended a Philharmonic classical concert. In addition to the ticket, the same people will also receive a Classical Music Starter Kit including CDs, a book and an invitation to a special introductory presentation by Music Director Lawrence Leighton Smith.

Classical music may be seen as intimidating, stuffy and irrelevant. The rituals associated with concert attendance can seem arcane and the music difficult to understand. But to witness a great piece of music performed live can be a truly transcendent experience worthy of real contemplation and joy. Such moments are rare in our fast-paced, information-saturated world, and besides, classical music? It kind of rocks.

When the Philharmonic rose from the ashes of the Colorado Springs Symphony two years ago, it was a stunning testimony to Colorado Springs' support for the arts. In a community frequently lambasted for being culturally bereft, the Philharmonic's successful fund-raising campaign seemed an improbable triumph. And though grants, foundation support, and a handful of wealthy donors bolstered the campaign, the Philharmonic's capital campaign was in part made successful by concerned citizens who recognized the civic need for a professional symphony orchestra in a town our size.

Not content to sit in the hall and perform for a select few, the Philharmonic's new marketing plan, called Philharmonic First, is designed to bring new audience members to concerts and to classical music. It's part of a sustained effort to give something back to the community that enabled them to exist in the first place.

Far from being just a trick to get people in the door, this ambitious initiative provides a worthwhile public service. People are more likely to enjoy "high art" when someone else is paying the bill. And they might be more likely to become regular audience members. The Philharmonic First program kicked off last weekend and continues through the entire 2004-2005 Classical Masterworks program, which includes the upcoming Mozart and Friends concerts.

The first Mozart and Friends concert will take place this Saturday and Sunday when the Philharmonic again changes venues to perform at Sunrise Church in Briargate. The program includes Mozart's Symphony No. 36 "Linz," one of Mozart's later works (later in Mozart terms is a relative term, of course -- during the fours days in which he wrote the symphony, he was 26 years old). The Philharmonic will also perform Igor Stravinsky's "Pulcinella" Suite and the absolutely gorgeous Serenade for Strings by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

-- Bettina Swigger

Mozart and Friends I

The Colorado Springs Philharmonic; Lawrence Leighton Smith, conducting Sunrise Church, 2655 Briargate Blvd.

Saturday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 13 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets: $20 (open seating); call 520-SHOW or www.ticketswest.com for more info; Philharmonic First promotion also available; ask for details.

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