Maybe you want to compare the sounds of some other orchestras with that of the Boston Symphony. Or maybe you've bought every Jean' Pierre Rampal record ever made, and you're wondering if he can really play like that outside a recording studio. Or perhaps you're dying to hear what a balalaika orchestra sounds like (pretty much like no other you've ever heard before).
In any case, most of all this top-notch talent you're paying for is in Boston as part of the Boston University Celebrity Series, now in its fortieth year. Founded by the late Aaron Richmond, the Celebrity Series works approximately eighteen months in advance to schedule 35 concerts and recitals per season.
Walter Pierce, who has run the Celebrity Series for the past twenty years, comments on the booking situation, "I try not to duplicate too much from year to year, except for people like Serkin and the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater; I usually have four or five orchestras, five or six pianists, and several vocalists. Of course, this is based on the performers' schedules, the availability of concert halls, and a number of other factors."
The majority of tickets are sold beforehand through a subscription series, in which patrons select at the beginning of the season seven events out of the offerings. The remaining tickets are sold at box offices immediately before the event. Thus, a group such as the Guarneri String Quartet is already sold out, although the performance date is March 1977. But Pierce says, "Some events really surprise me--for example Segovia never sells well in subscription, but does at the box office. Fortunately, Boston is a city most major artists want to play, and I can afford to turn down artists' agents if I have to."
The Celebrity Series season runs from October through April, and concerts are either at Symphony Hall or Jordan Hall. This year will feature such orchestras as the Cleveland Symphony and the London Philharmonic, pianists Claudio Arrau, Rudolf Serkin, and Lazar Berman, vocalists Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Janet Baker, and violinists Henryk Szeryng and Itzhak Perlman. Tickets are about what you'd expect to pay for performers of this magnitude, falling in the $5-$9 range. But if you're going to hear a concert, you might as well hear some of the best.
Boston University Celebrity Series, 31 St. James Ave., Boston--telephone 482-2595 for further information.