YAKIMA, Wash. -- The Yakima Symphony Orchestra just concluded a season long “Musical Journey Through Time” with a sold-out theater for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It was the seventh sold-out performance in a season that saw packed houses for everything from well-known classic symphonic repertoire and a fully staged opera to music of the Beatles and a contemporary work inspired by Pearl Jam.
Since introducing a $9 price for half the seats in the theater two years ago, along with a $5 student price good anywhere in the house, YSO has experienced growth of nearly 40 percent in overall concert attendance and, contrary to trends for orchestras across the country, subscribership has increased by more than 50 percent.
A tenfold increase in attendance by students and children over the last four years has brought a noticeable change in the age and diversity of the symphony audience as well.
Participation has increased outside the concert hall, too, through collaborations such as the monthly “Meet the Orchestra!” edition of Story Hour at the Yakima Valley Museum, which provides very young children and their parents an opportunity for intimate interaction with musicians and other performers connected to the Symphony. And last fall’s “Four Seasons” exhibition at Essencia Bakery, curated by David Lynx of the Larson Gallery, featured local photographers in conjunction with a performance of Vivaldi’s famous work on YSO’s “Baroque Beginnings” concert.
YSO musicians and guest artists, from the concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic to the official national anthem singer of the Chicago Blackhawks, made numerous appearances at area schools, colleges and civic events.
Subscription reservations have already filled more than half the house for the symphony’s upcoming season, “A Musical Voyage Around the World,” which will feature favorites such as Respighi’s “Pines of Rome.”
Subscriptions are still available through the YSO office at 509-248-1414; get details about this and a new summer performance series at www.ysomusic.org.
• David Rogers is executive director of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra.