After 15 seasons of programming, Symphony Silicon Valley has seen many shows pass through their doors. The professional orchestra is located in San Jose, California and operates with a full-time staff of five people, only one of whom is in the box office. They program seven pairs of concerts per season, in addition to creating numerous one-off events for non-profit like youth orchestras and choral groups. “A typical day for us in sales is probably around $3,000 - $5,000 on a good day,” says Andrew Bales, President of Symphony Silicon Valley. “But with this, we did $150,000 on the first day!”
The performance Andrew is referring to is The Lord Of The Rings Live Symphony Orchestra that his venue programmed. The show saw 250 musicians—100 adult choir members, 50 child choir members, and 100 instrumentalists—on stage in front of a 48 foot wide screen that showed the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. The total run-time for all three films was just over 11 hours, and the organization sold tickets for each individual show over the course of three days on the weekend. As the second venue to ever put on this Lord Of The Rings show in North America, Andrew and the Ticket Office Manager Brenda McHenry faced a lot of unique opportunities. “The idea that we could accommodate a massive volume of people was a stretch for us,” said Andrew. “It was a fairly high price point product as well. A top ticket was $330, because you were buying three films.”
As a result of this performance, Brenda and Andrew estimate that Lord Of The Rings created $850,000 in revenue for Symphony Silicon Valley. “Most of the purchases were done online,” adds Brenda Mchenry. “We had a lot of people buying the whole package of three movies at once.” The department at Symphony Silicon Valley sends personalized thank-you postcards to attendees, so this shift into the digital realm was a departure from how they typically did things. “It involved configuring our internet connections for our Apple computers, ticket printers and scanners for the new facility, involved negotiations with the theater management, cobbling together a connection scheme that would work, and finding an understanding IT guy. It also involved utilizing PayPal Here on a mobile phone for sales of CD’s and books.” The team at AudienceView worked to help Brenda make sure she was using the system to its full ability and hiccups were minimal.
When asked if they saw any new patrons in the months following their success with Lord Of The Rings, Andrew sounded optimistic. “We were able to show off our live orchestra and make a connection. The thing that’s good for us is that, while symphonies are bemoaning the age of their audience, this is bringing in a younger group that could potentially be a replacement for the older generation.”
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