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Classical 101

Columbus Symphony Happy Hour, This One’s for YOU!

Columbus Symphony Orchestra invites you to Happy Hour April 16th

Everyone knows that audience members at concerts are never happy.

The etiquette is to sit quietly in the dark. Suppress all emotional response and bodily noise. Looking happy or as if you are enjoying yourself is resolutely low rent... Schubert and Brahms were miserable, and you should be, too. The musicians aren’t there to entertain you. Conductors are there to flap their arms, wiggle their bottoms, and get paid a lot. Just look around you, right?


That may have been true one hundred years ago. I suspect audience discomfort had more to do with tight corsets worn by both men and women. But it sure ain’t so today. Audiences are engaged. They tap their feet, they hum along, the sip a beer, they text about the performance in real-time. Concerts today are designed to make patrons comfortable and engaged. You are more important than your grandmother, God bless her, who may have had these same seats fifty years ago.

The Columbus Symphony has had great success with the recently minted Classical Happy Hour Concerts. Come in at 5:30 p.m. Have free eats. Cash bar. Mingle, hook-up, whatever. The concert is a t 6:30. It lasts one hour. No longer. (Especially good to know if you’ve hooked up.) Done at 7.30. This is the model of the future and its taking off in Columbus. Admission? Free. F-R-E-E. Nobody is going to ask you for a dime, except at the bar.

This Thursday April 16 The Columbus Symphony plays Stravinsky’s Firebird and Schubert’s Symphony no. 8. Schubert wasn’t miserable at all. People wanted you to believe that so you can be miserable at concerts. He was a jolly guy who loved his food and drink, wrote the world’s most exquisite lieder and died of syphilis at 31. Stravinsky re-invented music with a new emphasis on rhythm 100 years ago. The Firebird is a Russian fairy tale that began life as a ballet for Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes.

The concert opens with Jennifer Higdon’s Peachtree Street. Jennifer’s a Pulitzer Prize winner and composer of the exquisite Blue Cathedral. Last time she was in Columbus I kvelled on radio to her Smoky Mountain accent, and loved her music. So will you.

Conductor Britt Mitchell comes to town from the Cleveland Orchestra. He’s a toothsome cutie with a great musical resume. He’s worked with the London Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Houston Symphony the Rochester Philharmonic. The Columbus Symphony is a mighty fortress and a lot of fun. Cheap drinks and free food and no admission required. And I’m on stage to make sure everyone behaves themselves. Not.

Come and enjoy. Thursday in the Ohio Theater. Thank the Johnstone Fund for New Music. It’s because of them nobody has to pay to get in!

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.