Take a stroll past the Lincoln Center fountain or a little south, past the Carnegie Deli, and the fall stirrings of classical music in New York are inescapable. Unfortunately, so are the ticket prices. As concert halls open with black-tie galas and billboards advertise world-class soloists for the price of a Broadway show, it’s clear that live big-name classical concerts are as upper-crusty as ever. But all’s not lost if you’re living among the masses and still want to catch the masterworks live. Our great borough is home to some almost-professional orchestras that should more than scratch that Beethovian itch, and save you enough for the occasional digital big name (Yo-Yo Ma for $9.99 here).
The groups here have a mix of students, amateurs of all ages and semi-professionals. Go to any given concert, and you should hear real repertoire, played the way it’s meant to be. Serious concert-goers might be reminded at times that they’re not sharing air with the NY Phil. But for the rest of us music-lovers, Haydn’s Surprise symphony should go without surprise.
Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra, free
The BSO is the oldest of the bunch, and it performs in Brooklyn Heights’ St. Ann’s Church—a venue beautiful enough to enhance any music the orchestra churns out. The BSO is a large group, with a real mix of skill in its ranks, but the size makes for a big sound that should suit the grand chords of the Wagner overture on Oct. 25 (a Mozart Oboe Concerto and Tchaikowsky’s Suite #2. are also on tap). Details here.
The String Orchestra of Brooklyn, $10
The SOB (yes, they go by that acronym) also performs in St. Ann’s, but that’s about where the similarities to the BSO end. The SOB is much smaller, and as you might have noticed from the name, they’re strings-only, which restricts the available music. But there’s still more than enough out there, especially for just a few performances a year. And these guys seem to have a little fun with their programs. Their concert this past Saturday was entitled “Fugueeddaboutit,” and featured Bach’s, Mozart’s and Beethoven’s takes on the fugue, a musical style where a theme is repeated throughout the orchestra. The price tag doesn’t compare to BSO’s “free,” but based on this SOB Youtube video, the $10 might be worth it. The next concert is Nov. 21, with Bartok, Janacek, Webern and Sibelius. Details should be posted on the SOB site soon, we’ve been told.
Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra, $15/$8 students and seniors
We’re back to a full symphony orchestra here, and the real draw of this Park-Slope-based group seems to be its ties to the community. The BCCO has played in several public schools throughout the area, and this season’s concerts are in a high school and two churches. Based on the group’s audio excerpts, $15 seems a bit pricey for the product, but the season’s young soloists do look promising. Next concert on Dec. 5, with Barber, Chausson and Mozart. Details here.
Brooklyn College Conservatory Orchestra, $5
We can’t tell you much about this group, but it’s the primary orchestra of a college conservatory, so it’s bound to be full of young, enthusiastic and, maybe most importantly, constantly-practicing musicians. Here’s a taste of the orchestra’s modern side with some Philip Glass. Concerts are at Brooklyn College’s Whitman Hall, and the next one is on Nov. 5, with Sibelius and Beethoven. Details and season schedule here.