A first: Symphony offers on-stage tickets

Did you ever wonder what an orchestral conductor and his exertions look like from the players’ vantage point? Here’s your chance to find out.

The Charlotte Symphony will let listeners this week sit in a new location: onstage.

The Bach and Beethoven works on the agenda don’t demand a stageful of players. So the orchestra will sell tickets to seats behind the orchestra – the ones the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte used in last week’s concerts.

If you listen from there, the experience is more "visceral," executive director Jonathan Martin said. He has tried it.

"What you’re going to hear is a great deal of immediacy and a lot of volume," Martin said. On the other hand, he added, the sound won’t be as "blended" as what the audience out in the auditorium hears.

The orchestra’s music director, Christopher Warren-Green, has wanted to bring listeners onstage "for a while," Martin said. It's part of the effort to "make the orchestra more accessible and more connected with audiences," Martin said. "We hope it will give people a new appreciation for our musicians and what their experience is."

Banking on the popularity of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, the orchestra will perform the program three nights – adding Thursday, Nov. 17, to the usual Friday-Saturday pair. Beethoven's "Egmont" Overture and Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 are also in store.

Some concert halls have built-in seats behind the orchestra. The Belk Theater doesn’t. So the orchestra had to make special arrangements for ushering the listeners onstage – and even had to get the fire department’s OK.Putting listeners onstage isn't feasible at every concert, Martin said. But the orchestra's leaders are looking for more opportunities this season.

“We’ll learn from this first weekend,” Marti said. “I think we’re going to want to do this as much as we can.”

The orchestra will sell 60-70 tickets for stage seats. The price: $26.50. They're available only from the Charlotte Symphony box office, 704-972-2000. Sales will cut off at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18.