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Shrinking BSO concert schedule hits the right balanced note | READER COMMENTARY

Mark Hanson, new president and CEO of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. July 6, 2022. (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun).

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra announced recently that for the upcoming season, it will be reducing the number of concerts offered at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Specifically, the BSO is eliminating 10 of the Friday night concerts, leaving 81 concerts scheduled for Meyerhoff and 32 concerts scheduled for the BSO’s North Bethesda venue, Strathmore Music Center. As a longtime supporter and season ticket holders at both Meyerhoff and Strathmore, I applaud the BSO’s decision as sensible and long overdue (”BSO cancels 10 concerts for the 2022-23 season as it seeks to fill seats at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall,” July 7).

Of course, I do not like the fact that reducing concerts has become necessary. In an ideal world, the BSO would be adding — not eliminating — concerts. Reality dictates otherwise, however, as, for years, the BSO has played regularly to small audiences at Meyerhoff. This does not mean there is insufficient demand to support our BSO, it simply means the number of performances are excessive for the demand. Eliminating a single concert from a week’s program does not make the orchestra inaccessible, it simply enhances the potential for performances before larger audiences. That, in turn, makes possible a more meaningful evening for all, including the audience, the musicians and all who support the BSO.

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The BSO’s implementation of this decision has been handled well. In our case, my spouse and I lost a few Friday night concerts — they were simply shifted to Saturday nights — and we received equally good seats for our “new” concerts. Simply put, we will not feel put upon going on a Saturday evening, rather than a Friday evening.

The decision also makes it possible for the BSO to utilize the now-available evenings to perform in other venues in Maryland. Our BSO is the single-largest recipient of public arts support in the state of Maryland and as such it should be accessible to Marylanders beyond Baltimore and North Bethesda. The BSO should also use this opportunity to become more accessible to all Baltimoreans and not simply those who attend concerts at Meyerhoff.

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Reprogramming aspects of the next season is the first major decision by BSO President and CEO Mark Hanson. It’s a gutsy move that may not please everyone, but at least for this BSO supporter, it’s a smart decision that will serve the BSO and its audiences well in the long haul.

— John Warshawsky, Baltimore

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