Date Idea: Seeing the VSO for Cheap

Sourced from the VSO

Sourced from the VSO

When I was single, one of my favourite solo dates was going to see the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO). I’d get a seat in the upper balcony and let the swells of the music wash over me in my blissful solitude. It was exhilarating, almost as if the Orchestra was playing just for me.

I’ve gone on dates with romantic interests to the VSO and, over the course of our relationship, my boyfriend and I have also gone a few times. Each outing, we had a lovely evening together (far better than our usual staying at home and vegging). Neither of us are musical experts (despite my decade of piano lessons), but we enjoyed hearing the intricacies of each of the pieces on the program and marvelling at the genius of the soloists who played.

A little known fact is that the VSO can actually be an incredibly affordable date. I’m always urging more people to go since there’s a misconception that it’s a spendy treat. If you follow these tips, you can see amazing live symphony performances for $30 or less per person. Given that a movie ticket can cost up to $23.50, the VSO is a really good deal.

Tip #1: Look out for VSO concerts and events with low-ticket prices.

From February 25-28, the VSO is holding their annual New Music Festival, which features four concerts celebrating the new works of contemporary composers. Tonight’s (February 25) event includes a performance by Standing Wave, a local six-person ensemble of musical multi-taskers, and music by Jocelyn Morlock, Nicole Lizée, Jeffrey Ryan, and Phillip Glass. Kronos Quartet plays February 26; on Februrary 27, listen to selections curated by composer-in-residence Jocelyn Morlock that are “Sacred and Profane” themed; and February 28 sees Kronos Quartet return for a performance of It Got Dark, composed by renowned film composer Thomas Newman (Skyfall, WALL-E, American Beauty).

Kronos Quartet - Photo Credit: Jay Blakesberg

Kronos Quartet – Photo Credit: Jay Blakesberg

Even better, tickets are only $30 for adults, and $25 for seniors and students. A festival pass for all the concerts is only $100 for adults. Kronos Quartet is also hosting an afternoon Masterclass on February 27 with a VSO School of Music student string quartet. The concert, which presents Fodé Lassana Diabaté’s quartet Sunjatas Time, is by donation ($20 minimum for the general public).

Most other VSO concerts also have cheap tickets (as low as $22 for adults) as long as you’re willing to take the slightly less sought after seats. I’ve sat in them and had an equally marvelous time compared to when I’ve splurged on more expensive tickets.

Tip #2: Get the TD All-Access Pass, if you’re a full-time student or under 35.

I took full advantage of this deal when I was studying and was really sad to see this discount go for me. Basically, you sign up for free membership and can then buy $15 tickets for you and your date for any eligible VSO concert (two weeks in advance).

Tip #3: Buy Rush Tickets the day of the performance.

This thrifty option is great for an impromptu date and I’ve done it many times. The day of the performance (special concerts excluded), visit the box office when it opens (usually 1-2 hours before) and buy rush tickets for $15-25, depending on the show and availability.

Upcoming concerts include “Russian Classics” on March 5 and 7, featuring Rory Macdonald as conductor and Angelo Xiang Yu on the violin, playing Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2; as well as “Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto” on March 12 and 14, with conductor Christopher Seaman and Alexander Melnikov on piano.

Alexander Melnikov: Sourced from the VSO

Alexander Melnikov: Sourced from the VSO

If you’re seeing the show at the sumptuous Orpheum Theatre (dating back to 1927), you can grab a bite with your date beforehand at one of the many excellent nearby restaurants.

The Orpheum: Sourced from the VSO

The Orpheum: Sourced from the VSO

Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar (Moda Hotel, 900 Seymour Street) is only a minute walk away and ideal for a expertly crafted drink and a snack, while next door sister restaurant Cibo Trattoria serves refined Italian dishes that use local, seasonal ingredients (if you want to transfer some of your ticket savings to an elegant meal).

Cibo - Photo Credit: James Stockhorst

Cibo – Photo Credit: James Stockhorst

Also nearby is ShuRaku Sake Bar & Bistro (833 Granville Street) for their inventive Japanese creations, such as spicy salmon tartar, an Enchanted Forest roll with eggplant tempura, and hitsu-mabushi (seasoned rice topped with fresh water eel and accompanied by dashi stock).

After you’ve finished eating, make your way to the Orpheum for a fabulous orchestral performance.

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