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September 13, 2012

Neighborhoods welcome DSO back

By K. Michelle Moran
C & G Staff Writer

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Neighborhoods welcome DSO back
Detroit Symphony Orchestra Music Director Leonard Slatkin will be conducting a couple of performances in the Neighborhood Concert Series.

DETROIT — Orchestra Hall is a spectacular place to see a concert, but for those unable to make the trek into the city, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra is coming to them.

For the second year, the DSO is performing what it calls the Neighborhood Concert Series. Members of the orchestra, or the full orchestra in larger venues, will be performing four concerts apiece in Beverly Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Dearborn, Grosse Pointe Farms, Southfield and West Bloomfield. The neighborhood concerts begin Dec. 16 and run through June 6, 2013, and those who purchase a general admission subscription for a series for $75 before Oct. 1 are entitled to a free Orchestra Hall concert ticket for a performance this fall.

DSO Public Relations Manager Gabrielle Poshadlo said the series was a huge success last season, so they were eager to bring it back. The subscriber base alone was 1,773, and of those, 86 percent had never had a DSO subscription or hadn’t subscribed since the 2008-09 season, according to DSO figures. Of the neighborhood series subscribers, 14 percent also subscribe to the regular DSO season at Orchestra Hall, and Poshadlo said no one cancelled their subscription because of the new series.

“We’re really expanding our audience base,” she said, noting that a number of families took advantage of the convenience of having these concerts in their community.

The series has given older patrons a chance to see the orchestra again as well — something that hasn’t been possible before for some. Poshadlo said some seniors and former subscribers who could no longer make the trip downtown were able to see the neighborhood concerts, and some assisted living facilities have taken busloads of their seniors to these concerts. The Dearborn concerts, which take place in the morning, have also attracted a number of college students, she said.

“It’s been a really, really positive thing,” Poshadlo said.

Several of the series include Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, Handel’s “Water Music” and Mozart’s “Haffner” Symphony.

The Beverly Hills concerts take place at the Seligman Performing Arts Center on Sundays at 3 p.m., and the concerts in Bloomfield Hills are at 8 p.m. Saturdays at Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church. The ones in Dearborn are at 10:45 a.m. Fridays at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center. Grosse Pointe Farms concerts are at 3 p.m. Sundays at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church. In Southfield, concerts will take place Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Shaarey Zedek, and in West Bloomfield, they’ll also be held Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., but at the Berman Center for the Performing Arts, part of the Eugene and Marcia Applebaum Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit campus.

Kareem George, the DSO’s managing director of community programs, said audiences have enjoyed seeing DSO musicians in more intimate settings, and many have expressed a sense of pride at having concerts in their places of worship.

But because of the small size of some venues, tickets sell quickly. The concerts in Grosse Pointe Farms and Bloomfield Hills sold out as a series well before individual concert tickets went on sale last year, George said, and two of the Beverly Hills concerts sold out in advance. Grosse Pointe Memorial Church has a capacity of 430, while Kirk in the Hills can seat about 500 and the Seligman Performing Arts Center seats about 720, he said. Even the largest venue, Congregation Shaarey Zedek — with a capacity of 1,100 — came close to capacity, George said. As a result, advance tickets — and, in many cases, full series ticket purchases — are encouraged for those who want to be certain they’ll get a seat.

An additional benefit of these concerts has been introducing residents to beautiful venues they may have never visited, George said.

Patrons have been so delighted with the concerts that he said the DSO received more than $80,000 in donations at these performances, even though people had already purchased tickets.

“The DSO wants to thank the community,” George said. “We had an incredible inaugural season for this series, which wouldn’t have been possible if people didn’t come.”

Tickets to individual concerts are $25 per person and go on sale Oct. 29.

“We just want to make it as easy as possible for everybody to see the orchestra,” Poshadlo said. “Of course, we hope people come to see us at our home at Orchestra Hall, but that’s not the reason for the Neighborhood Concerts initiative. This is just an initiative to assure everyone that we’re their orchestra, as well. It’s important to engage them in the communities where they live, work and play.”

For tickets or more information, log onto www.dso.org, visit the DSO box office at 3711 Woodward in Detroit or call (313) 576-5111.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer K. Michelle Moran at kmoran@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1047.