Anyone with the desire to hear the beautiful music of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in person can have that experience, thanks to the discounted and free concerts offered by the Symphony.
At beautiful Powell Hall, the home of the St. Louis Symphony at 718 N. Grand Boulevard in the Grand Center area, tickets to the concerts can be pricey, it’s true. A person buying an individual ticket at full price will usually pay between $21 and $85 for an Orchestra seat, and $45 to $83 in the balcony. (Since prices might vary according to the performance, it’s best to check the website for exact prices. Also, I haven’t included every section.)
Season tickets bring these prices down a bit. But there are less expensive ways to enjoy the St. Louis Symphony. One that I have used and highly recommend is the Fifty Free card. You simply go to the box office and ask for one of these cards. I believe you need to show an ID when you pick it up, and each time you use it. You can use it the same day you get it. The card is good for one season (August to May, approximately), and holders of the Fifty Free card can attend up to six concerts at the St. Louis Symphony for free. At each eligible (eligible is the operative word here; it’s always good to check in advance) Orchestral Concert, the first fifty people in line present their card for punching, and are admitted.
I have attended many concerts using this card. The Fifty refers to the number of people who can attend one concert with this card. Everyone in line, when I’ve been there, has always gotten in.
The seats eligible for Fifty Free are always Orchestra Right or Left, and Balcony; you can usually choose.
The Fifty Free seats at the St. Louis Symphony are handed out ninety minutes before the concert begins, so you may want to bring a book. More often than not, though, you don’t need your book; there is an informative pre-concert lecture by one of the musicians, or local musicologist Hugh Macdonald–or sometimes Director David Robertson, whose joyful expertise reminds this writer of Leonard Bernstein in the Sixties. These occur one hour before the concert and really help audience members to listen to the pieces being performed. Other distractions include delicious desserts for sale, beverages alcoholic and non-, and the gift shop, where you can buy a Beethoven doll or a scarf filled with musical notes-or note paper filled with musical notes!
One very important thing to remember about the Fifty Free program is that it is not available for every single concert. I once brought a friend to a Friday morning coffee concert only to discover that the card couldn’t be used for those concerts, and we had to pay full price. Other concerts-special holiday programs, the Rene Fleming gala concert this fall, for example-also exclude the Fifty Free card.
There are a couple of ways to know whether the concert you’re going to is Fifty-Free eligible. One is to look on the St. Louis Symphony website a few days before the concert, under Fifty Free; it lists the current eligible concert. The other way is to call the St. Louis Symphony box office the day before or day of the concert at: 314-534-1700.
Senior Rush Tickets
Seniors over 65 have the opportunity to attend St. Louis Symphony concerts at half price by buying Senior Rush tickets beginning one hour before the concert, when available, and at the discretion of the management. (Translation: Call the box office to be sure.)
Students can get very good deals at the St. Louis Symphony-ten dollars for a ticket ordered in advance for selected (there’s that word again) concerts, fifteen at the box office. Students who purchase a Friday night concert series (four or six concerts) pay less than $9.25 a concert. Of course, students will always be asked to show their student ID cards.
Children five to twelve are offered ten-dollar tickets to subscription and other selected concerts. Note: No child under five will be admitted to the concert hall.
Finally, and perhaps best of all, the St. Louis Symphony plays at various venues throughout the city and even into Illinois once in a while, for free! Really, no strings. (Well, they do have strings in the orchestra, of course.) Check their website under Community Events for concerts in churches, a synagogue, McKendree University, Washington University, the Piper Palm House in Tower Grove Park, and at Powell Hall. These sound great-so you probably need to get there early, especially if it’s a small venue.
If you haven’t yet had the experience of hearing the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra perform, I urge you to go. Take advantage of these discounts and free tickets and treat yourself to an afternoon or evening of world-class entertainment!
Relevant St. Louis Symphony web pages:
Fifty Free card