How do you get to Symphony Hall? Line up at the OFA.
How do you get to Symphony Hall?
Practice is one way. Standing in line at the Office for the Arts for free tickets to the Boston Symphony Orchestra is the other.
The Weekly Beat, the e-newsletter of the OFA, announces when tickets are available, and students who are signed up to receive the email find out about availability and line up early for the chance to grab seats to hear one of the country’s most esteemed orchestras.
On a recent day, Kevin Brewer ’13, a chemistry concentrator from Utah, arrived nearly two hours ahead of the 1 p.m. release time to make sure he could score tickets for a Valentine’s Day date with his wife. (They were also going out to dinner in Boston.) Brewer has taken advantage of the free tickets several times, he said, because hearing live music offers an opportunity to “experience it more deeply.”
Michele Zemplenyi ’13, a statistics concentrator from Seattle, was also going on a date— with her boyfriend a couple of days before but “in the spirit of Valentine’s Day.” She’s a cellist in the Harvard Pops Orchestra and sometimes attends other music events, but says it’s hard to get to all the classical events on campus. The BSO offers the “next level of quality” and makes for a festive night out across the river. If it weren’t for free tickets, provided on a first-come, first-served basis, she, like many Harvard undergrads, would not be able to afford to go.
The tickets are the legacy of the late Harvard professor Arthur Maass, who was chair of the government department 1963-67 and Thomson Professor of Government 1967-1984. A subscriber to the BSO beginning in the 1940s, Maass passed away in 2004 but left a provision in his estate plans that established the free ticketing program for about eight tickets per week through the OFA.
“Some say Harvard students don’t get into Boston much—that it’s pretty much Cambridge twenty-four seven,” said Jack Megan, director of the OFA. “When it comes to the BSO, that rule doesn’t apply. It’s one of the world’s greatest orchestras, and students want to experience it. Generations from now they will still be going, thanks to Professor Maass. He would be amazed.”
Indeed, students who take advantage of the free tickets know they have access to something amazing. And even those who have never been to a symphonic event find their way to the OFA line.
“My roommate found out about this, and he knows I don’t go to classical music concerts a lot,” said Tri Huynh ’13, a molecular and cellular biology concentrator who had never been to a professional classical music concert. “This is his way of trying to expose me to classical music. I’m looking forward to a really great first experience.”