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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Yo Yo Ma vs New Orleans Black Chorale: Frugal Choices

Not only has summer turned into autumn over the past few days, but our frugal lives have been filled with free entertainment. More on all the events at a later date.

We just got back from the monthly concert at the church down the street from us. Tonight's concert: the New Orleans Black Chorale. A wonderful concert, followed by a reception, which amounts to a free dinner.

The woman who introduced the singers mentioned that Yo Yo Ma was in town, playing with the New Orleans Philharmonic. Well, we didn't know, so we didn't have to make a choice. And a search did not tell me what the tickets cost. I wonder what we would have done.

Local concert: free, a 5 minute walk away, free dinner.
New Orleans concert: a world famous player, at least 2 hours in the car, maybe $100.00 for mediocre seats. No free dinner, obviously.

It is a measure of the frugal calculator embedded in my brain that I run the numbers even on hypothetical situations. What would you have done?

Two other factors.

We heard Ma play at Tanglewood quite a few years ago. The only spots on the lawn that were available by the time we showed up were in the blazing sun. After a valiant effort, I dozed off.

Also, the post-concert food tonight included a favorite from last year: roasted tomato soup with basil. Reader, I had two cups.

So how do you decide between two desirable events? When is money no object?


Shelley said...

Gosh, having a clash on my social calendar just isn't a common occurence, I must admit. Like you, I would factor in the convenience (if it is very hard work to arrive, one of us may lose our good humour); opportunity (is this once-in-a-lifetime); the longing-isity (have I always dreamed of this or is it a just newly cool thing); and of course the total cost (am I really willing to spend, say, 5 hours of my life earning the money spent in 2?). That said, I do think having good memories is a good use of money. Personally, I think you definitely made the right choice. Free food almost always wins with me!

FB @ said...

Not a common thing for me either.. but I suppose I'd have to choose based on rarity of event.

It's not everyday Yo Yo Ma comes to town! :)

Duchesse said...

Sure, money is an object. We pass up all kinds of things (Lucinda Williams, sports events, plays at Stratford) that are just too pricey.

The big ticket events are like paying full retail for a dress (gasp!): you havet o be are in the mood to splurge, and be sure it
(the experience) is something you really want.

I don't select on rarity of event. I select on enjoyment potential and these days, can I sit down? So much music I love is offered in bars or clubs where you must stand all evening.

Another criterion is, whom do I want to support? A big, established name or local talent who need each ticket sale?

Over the Cubicle Wall said...

Some things are worth it as long as you can actually afford them, which I am sure you could. Is Yo Yo Ma one of those things for you? If so, I would have gone for it. If not, the Frugal choice certainly seems like something you enjoyed.

Suzy said...

I'd have gone with the freebie myself but if I had 2 events at the same time and each was equally desirable..hmm..I'd have to make sure the other aspects are equal - seating, weather, length of drive, etc then decide if I really 'need' to see one or the other 'live'. I've found that a lot of music I play I don't necessarily want/need to see it performed live in person so to speak. Others I think it would be nice to see in person. Also have to take into consideration if one is something I could do on a yearly basis and the other is a once in a lifetime event which can range from 'they never come here' to 'the members are all old and may not be around another 5 years'!

Suzy said...

oops read the last sentence wrong and thought it said 'money is no object' instead of asking the question LOL! Money is ALWAYS an object! if something free is desirable I'm going! I'll make an exception for some things but not for most. I wanted to attend symphonies and plays this year until I checked out the prices! yikes! I found another symphony orchestra in a county that's closer and it's a LOT cheaper and I really enjoyed the 2 concerts and have season tickets this year. I split the cost with a coworker(buy one get one free) and it cost $20 for 4 concerts plus they have 2-4 free concerts during the year usually. Now Houston's ballet puts on the Nutcracker every year and I have to say that I've said every year since I've lived here( nearly 20) that I want to see this ballet! The tickets aren't cheap but they won't break the bank either(at least I don't think they will!) my main hesitation has been my schedule and I hate driving in that area of town and dealing with parking, etc. To date I've only seen the Barbie version and I want to see the 'real deal' at least once!

materfamilias said...

We make frugal choices regularly, but I'm also very aware of how hard symphonies and operas and repertory theatres struggle to fund-raise these days. While we could enjoy the live on-screen opera at our local cinema--a wonderful blend of modern technology and classical entertainment--buying a season's subscription to the opera and even giving the occasional ticket as a special gift, helps ensure that the live performances will continue to be there to broadcast. We probably don't need to worry about Yo-yo Ma's financial health, but that concert may well make the difference between the black and the red for the symphony that backs him up.

Duchesse said...

materfamilias makes a good point: the arts depend on our buying tickets, (or on corporate sponsorship and government subsidies, which are so hard to get these days). Some big name performers require promoters to offer at least some tickets at reasonable prices.

It's a multi-factor decision. I've spent a lot very good seats for theatre and ballet for the sake of exposing our sons to the performing arts.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Shelley--We don't even HAVE a calendar, but we're trying to go out more. Baby steps.

@FB etal--I tried to find out what the tickets cost, but the show was sold out.

@Duchesse-I agree about the bars. And you're right--it's the little guys who need the support.

@Cubicle--The frugal choice generally is best, because it is low on the stress meter, among other things.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Suzy--Those expensive Nutcrackers are not worth it. Trust me.

@Mater--You are right. The N.O. symphony is always in terrible straits and was including a YYM ticket with each subscription purchase. And I know the players are seriously underpaid. Good point.

@Duchesse--Luckily, I didn't really have a dilemma, because I didn't hear about YY till it was over (and it was sold-out in any case).