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Final symphony for Yarmouth concerts?

PUBLISHED: 09:49 06 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:33 03 July 2010

The outlook for international classical concerts at Yarmouth's Hippodrome Circus is looking bleak because of poor ticket sales - sparking a use it or lose it warning from bosses.

The outlook for international classical concerts at Yarmouth's Hippodrome Circus is looking bleak because of poor ticket sales - sparking a use it or lose it warning from bosses.

The tradition of symphonies by the sea was revived at the venue for the first time in more than 25 years with a visit by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in October 2007.

However, Joe Mackintosh, chief executive of the town's SeaChange Arts charity, said next April's visit by the European Union Chamber Orchestra could be the final concert unless public support improves.

His “use it or lose it” warning has come ahead of Tuesday's concert, featuring the 90-piece Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, for which fewer than 400 seats have been sold for the 900-capacity auditorium.

The visit by what Mr Mackintosh described as “possibly the largest orchestra ever to play at the Hippodrome” will include a programme of popular work by Chopin and Brahms.

The current series will continue with a concert by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra on February 4, featuring Dvorak's New World Symphony and the Bruch Violin Concerto, and a piano recital given by Russian Nikolai Demidenko on Sunday, March 21, featuring a programme of Beethoven and Chopin.

The European Union Chamber Orchestra, with piano soloist Freddy Kempf, a regular at the King's Lynn Festival, where he is a patron, will be on April 26.

Mr Mackintosh said sales for the previous series, from autumn 2008 to spring 2009, had started slowly, but they had a sell-out for the visit by the Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra, playing alongside British cellist Julian Lloyd-Webber, in February.

He said: “We are offering a special subscription rate of £70 for anyone who wants to buy the top-priced tickets for the whole series, which will give a saving of over £30.

“Now, because of the slow sales, if anyone buys a ticket for the first concert, and then wants to buy into the subscription, we will deduct the price of their ticket.”

He said the subsidised concerts represented “incredible value” and a big saving on London prices, but he feared they might still be facing snobbish attitudes about coming to Yarmouth.

“The Hippodrome is the best orchestral venue in the county without a doubt. The acoustics are fantastic and you get a perfect view,” he said.

“These are world class orchestras and people need to wake up to that. If people don't support these concerts during the development years, we will have to pull it.”

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