Rhapsody in Boston:

 

Yesterday, the Boston Symphony Orchestra announced its music director’s intention to resign due to health issues. James Levine, an esteemed conductor and National Medal of Arts recipient, will not officially step down until Sept. 1, but will not take part in any of his currently scheduled performances in the 2010-2011 season, according to the Symphony Orchestra’s website.

Despite Levine’s absence, the concerts will go on, remaining a financially appealing entertainment option for students — though they might not realize it.

While an older and perhaps wealthier crowd is certainly prominent in the concert hall, the Boston Symphony offers tickets no more expensive than $20 to anyone under 40.

Undergraduate students, recent graduates, and young working professionals are ensured two tickets for any seat available in the house. Simply put, students can sit in  $118 orchestra seats for less than a fifth of that price.

Through the double doors of 301 Massachusetts Ave. awaits a sensory experience unlike any other form of nightlife in this college town. Built in 1890 for the Symphony Orchestra, the magnificent Boston Symphony Hall can offer college students an evening of unparalleled style and sophistication.

Currently on queue, conductor Marcelo Lehninger will lead the Orchestra in performances of the works of Mozart, Birtwistle, and Bartók. Famed German violinist Christian Tetzlaff will be featured as a soloist in the program, which runs March 3-5 and on March 8.

One may think that such an evening belongs in a different era, a time in which high-class couples would wine and dine before attending the symphony.

But the tradition lives on, and there’s no need to break the bank to enjoy it. It’s hard not to feel the urge to put on a top hat and wear a dashing jacket, tails attached.

The under-40 deal also applies to the Boston Symphony’s Underscore Fridays series, which first launched in January.

The new program allows patrons to hear the conductor’s own comments about the symphony, according to a press release on the Symphony Orchestra’s website. Unlike most performances, the conductor will stop after certain pieces and have an intimate dialogue with the audience.

The Feb. 11 edition of the program highlighted Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki in the American premiere of the Korean-German composer Unsuk Chin’s Cello Concerto. It proved a hypnotic performance as Alban Gerhardt broke several strings as he performed his cello solos.

The next Underscore Friday event, scheduled for March 25, features conductor Thomas Ades in his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut, focusing on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Ades’ presentation will include three different musical interpretations by Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, and his own composition.

These special Friday performances make for a beautiful experience most younger crowds could easily miss out on. With the skyrocketing prices of movie tickets, popcorn, and soda, going to the symphony makes for a classier (and probably even cheaper) alternative.

 

Tickets to the Boston Symphony Orchestra are available online at

bso.org and at 888-266-1200.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1881 and is known as one of the “Big Five” city orchestras in the United States, alongside the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Cleveland Orchestra.