LINCOLN — When Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra made a September move to its new home in the Lied Center for Performing Arts, not only did it mean that more people would have the opportunity to experience a professional symphony orchestra in a premium performance space, but also that many would now be able to do so for about the price of a movie ticket.

To say the response to the change in venue and ticketing policy has been well received would be a tremendous understatement.  In the few months since that opening concert, LSO has experienced a 31% increase in subscription ticket sales, four complete house or main floor sell outs, and the orchestra has performed for more than twice as many audience members as they did last year.

LSO Executive Director Barbara Zach describes the lower ticket prices as being the final piece of the puzzle in terms of truly becoming Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra by making live classical music financially accessible to everyone in the community. She emphasized that affordable ticket prices are just the starting point for removing other barriers that might inhibit attendance at orchestra concerts. “Our goal is to make each concert so accessible and so unintimidating that it can be an impulse or sample purchase. If someone is debating between taking a chance on a movie they haven’t seen or hearing a live performance of an orchestra piece they’re not familiar with, we want to give them every reason to make the choice to experience world-class live symphonic music.”

After spending more than two years discussing this major organizational change and completing all of the necessary planning and fundraising, the Board of Directors and administrative staff are excited about the overwhelmingly positive response from audience and community members. “The move to the Lied Center has imbibed so much incredible energy into the concerts this year,” said Pamela S. Thompson, LSO board member. “Friends routinely come up to me during intermissions gushing with compliments and good wishes. There is an unmistakable undercurrent of excitement.”

Along with the increase in number of attendees, there has been a noticeable expansion of the breadth and makeup of the audience, reflecting the diversity of the Lincoln community. In addition to the palpable excitement that comes from having a full house, LSO board member Roxann Brennfoerder is excited to see the increased number of young people and people from all walks of life. “I am thrilled to see that some of my friends who used to express that the symphony was out of their price range are now able to buy season tickets and enjoy wonderful live music,” said Brennfoerder.

The lower ticket prices are not impacting LSO’s commitment to balance its budget. Executive Director Barbara Zach is confident that this strategy is the path to long-term financial stability. “The more people who are in the hall, the more ambassadors we are creating for LSO’s mission,” said Zach. “Many of our subscribers have purchased extra tickets to give away to friends. Additionally, since the ticket prices are lower, most of our subscribers have converted their savings into a charitable gift to the orchestra.” Zach noted that 85% of subscribers who have donated increased their contribution over last year. “The move to a new venue and our commitment to financial accessibility have resonated with our patrons, and they are thrilled to partner with us to make it possible,” said Zach. She also noted that 18% of the donors are longtime subscribers who chose to make a charitable gift for the first time this season.

The orchestra members have also felt the impact and excitement of performing in a new venue. “As musicians, we are energized by the size and the response of the audience. I have also been amazed by the way in which the move to the Lied Center has increased awareness of the symphony amongst my friends,” said Kim Osborne Salistean, LSO’s Assistant Concertmaster. “Many of my friends have attended concerts this year that have never gone in the past, and they are returning to other concerts. Our residency in the Lied Center has been a fabulous change for the LSO!”

An important aspect of LSO’s new ticketing policy is that anyone under the age of 17 can purchase a ticket for only $5, thanks to the Lienemann Charitable Foundation Student Ticket program. “As both a professional musician and public school music teacher I have always tried to encourage my students and their families to come to our concerts, with only very limited success in the past,” said Mike Swartz, LSO principal bassist and strings specialist for Lincoln Public Schools.  “This year I am seeing lots of faces I know. I am getting great feedback from people who had felt prohibited from coming with their whole family due to price, but who now are supporting us and are even considering becoming subscription holders.”

Music Director Edward Polochick is excited for LSO’s new role as the Lied Center Resident Orchestra. “Classical music has an incredibly unique way of crossing boundaries and reaching out to people, and it behooves us as an organization to make sure that we remove every barrier so that we can share our music with as many people as possible,” said Polochick. “One of the most rewarding things about music is knowing that our audience comes from vastly different frames of reference, different moods, different needs or expectations – and somehow the art form we experience meets each of us exactly where we are. Sharing music together is one of the greatest gifts we have as human beings.”

For more information about LSO’s programs and services, visit or call 402.476.2211.



By John Cutler / For the Lincoln Journal Star / Posted: Saturday, March 17, 2012

Once every few years, Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra gives you the chance to pick the program. Friday night’s performance was such an occasion. Lora Black, host of NET Public Radio’s “Classics By Request” program, helped out as the evening’s emcee.

First the picks: Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” overture, fourth movement of Brahms’ “Symphony No. 1,” “Vltava” (“Die Moldau”) from Bedrich Smetana’s “Ma Vlast,” Paul Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a movement from Wahoo native Howard Hanson’s “Symphony No. 2,” Sibelius’ “Valse Triste” and two Tchaikovsky works.

Suffice it to say the audience of about 1,000 thought everything in the “Classics By Request” lineup was great, but when they all are favorites, opinions always are favorable.

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