Who goes to Friday afternoon orchestra concerts? Not enough people, apparently. The National Symphony Orchestra has decided, for next season, not to “phase out” its matinees but to end them. To comment on this divisive action, we turn the soapbox over to two NSO attendees, who are no less pithy for being wholly imaginary. Call them Florestan and Eusebius, in a nod to classical tradition.
Florestan: There they go again. Orchestras these days are focusing on finding a hip, young audience. The matinee audience isn’t either. So the NSO ditches them with a single “Dear John” letter sent out with their subscription brochures.
Eusebius: Well, you have to see the NSO’s point. That matinee audience has been dwindling steadily for some time. There were only 600 subscribers to those Friday concerts. Performing to half-empty halls isn’t to anyone’s advantage.
Florestan: But think about who makes up those matinee audiences. Those are some of the NSO’s core constituents, people who have been attending orchestra concerts for years and belong to a generation that holds dear the primacy of classical music — like Dr. Albert W. Zanner of Gaithersburg, who has been going to NSO concerts for 50 years and who says, “We feel deserted as an elderly group who doesn’t like to drive at night.” By eliminating the matinees, the NSO is effectively getting rid of some of its most passionate listeners.