— because they effectively closed off the third tier box seats by pricing them well out of our ability to pay, forcing us (and presumably others) onto the floor.

Rather than being an elitist thing, this has to do with their refusal to accomodate my allergies. Specifically, the chemical sensitivities to things that most people never even notice. Not “scents” per se, but chemicals that are in laundry detergents, fabric softeners, shampoos and other common substances that everyone (or almost everyone) uses.

I rarely go to movies, concerts, and other activities that require me to be in confined spaces with people I don’t know. And most of the time I go because it is one of the children’s performances. I always carry extra anti-histamines (oral and topical) to treat reactions as fast as I can.

However, we have gone to the Seattle Symphony’s Baroque series for several years in a row. Until this year, the experience was almost universally wonderful. After the first year when I did sit on the floor near the stage, the price of box seats became affordable for us. Sitting in the box seats, even if they required climbing lots of stairs and made it hard to see some parts of the stage, meant that I was far enough away from people that I rarely had a reaction — and then only a minor one. I could spend my time enjoying the music.

So far this season there have been two concerts. I have had to move both times, because someone (or several people) near me was contaminated with something. Both times, the person/s arrived only minutes before the concert began, and I was forced to flee, find an usher and get permission to move the far back of the hall, where I could sit isolated, being seated only moments before the concertmaster/mistress entered. Both times, I have looked up into the third tier seats to see only ushers or other workers. No concert-goers.

I haven’t decided if I will attend the next concert, already paid for and long anticipated.

But Benaroya Hall/the Seattle Symphony has not ever seemed to care that their third-tier seats are empty , nor to be willing to make accomodations for us. In fact, when I first renewed our tickets last summer, I specified that we wanted to be toward the back and as close to the door as possible. When the tickets arrived, we were toward the front and NOT on an aisle, a problem that was solved but could have been avoided entirely if my original seat choice had been honored.

Perhaps they are trying to get the usually very small Baroque audience down to the lower levels so the hall appears more full. Or maybe they want to demonstrate how few seats actually sell in this series so they can eliminate it. Who knows?

Well — next year, there will be four empty seats in one section. And we won’t go back again.

Why? Because after the cost of tickets, an hour’s drive up, the cost of parking, the hour’s drive home… it just isn’t worth it. Sure, the hall carries sound beautifully. Yes, the Symphony chooses great artists and selects the most lovely and provocative music. But when I am listening to this with a rash slowly breaking out all over my body, numbed by the additional antihistamines… and sitting alone without my family, it’s not any fun. We can go to very nice local concerts and at least be close to home if I do have a reaction.

I have to say that, at this point, I wouldn’t recommend the Seattle Symphony to anyone. I would encourage you to attend local concerts, support people in smaller venues, and avoid the city traffic.


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