Out on the Town: Boston Symphony Orchestra

A few weekends ago, a good friend of mine was kind enough to invite me to the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). While I was delighted to go, I initially hesitated to write about it for this column. One of my goals with “Out on the Town” is for my wonderful readers to be able to take part in whatever I’m up to from week to week. I was worried that the BSO would be expensive and that the auditorium would be filled wall-to-wall with squares. Despite these initial concerns, the Boston Symphony Orchestra turned out to be an affordable and accessible experience, one that I absolutely recommend.

There are two ways of getting to Symphony Hall via public transport, each with their own benefits. One option involves taking the Red Line to Park Street, transferring to the E train on the Green Line headed outbound and getting off after five stops at Symphony. The exit to the station is right in front of Symphony Hall, so this is an easy and cost-effective way to get there. The other option involves taking the Red Line to Harvard Square and catching the 1 bus toward Dudley. The bus drives down Massachusetts Avenue, crosses the Charles River and drops off passengers in front of Symphony Hall. The latter option costs a little extra, but the bus makes its way across the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge, so one can observe the Charles River and the skylines of both Cambridge and Boston.

Once I got to Symphony Hall, my friend and I presented our tickets to the ushers at the front. My bag was briefly searched, but I was allowed inside with it (big win for bag enthusiasts everywhere). We headed to our seats, where I was able to really soak in the concert hall. The interior is breathtaking. The walls are a gold color and three chandeliers provide lighting. Patrons sit in front of the orchestra on the ground floor or in one of the two balcony levels. After a little bit of waiting, Andris Nelsons emerged from backstage to conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 2.

The quality of the music was frankly nuts, with each individual part blending perfectly into the whole. Two soloists sat in front of the orchestra, waiting patiently to sing their parts in the final movement. Nelsons was quite the performative conductor; it was entertaining to watch him wave his arms with such spirit, such finesse. From beginning to end, the Boston Symphony Orchestra delivered in terms of entertaining its listeners. After the fifth and final movement, the audience gave Nelsons and the orchestra what must have been a three-minute standing ovation. It was a marvelous experience.

Fortunately for Tufts students, there exist multiple ticket deals to ease the financial burden of an expensive show. For those who want to see just one show, ticket prices go as low as $20 for people under 40. For those who would like to attend more frequently, there is a “BSO College Card” option that gives students access to a limited season pass for just $25.