Comprehensive list of ways to attend classical music events in NYC for much (much) less — from WQXR

Insider Hacks to Help You See Classical Music in NYC for Cheap

The auditorium of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.
The auditorium of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.
( Jonathan Tichler / Metropolitan Opera )

New York City has seen some of the world’s most memorable classical music performances. Bernstein, Pavarotti, Callas … all the greats have passed through this city, dazzling audiences with their artistry and leaving impressions that linger on well after they have left the stage.

Unfortunately, buying tickets to these extraordinary performances can often cost upwards of $100. And in a city where the rent is as high as the skyscrapers, this price tag is simply too much for many New Yorkers. Luckily, institutions have realized this economic barrier is a big problem and have begun taking steps to ease some of the pain.

Here are some of the greatest hacks for seeing classical music for cheap (and even free) in NYC. Bookmark this page — it’s about to become your go-to resource for concert-going.

The Biggest and Best Deals:

  • The New York Philharmonic

    • Free Fridays
      • Yep, you read that right: F-R-E-E. Anyone ages 13–26 can take advantage of this absolutely stellar opportunity. Tickets are on a first-come, first served basis, and it’s a one-ticket-per-person deal. All you have to do to snag yours is reserve a seat through the Philharmonic’s online portal at noon on the Monday before the performance.
    • Student Rush
      • Perhaps you weren’t able to get to a computer, phone or tablet at noon on Monday, or maybe there’s a concert that you’re just dying to see, but it’s not included in the Philharmonic’s Free Friday series. Students in high school and above can still snag a ticket without breaking the bank — you can purchase up to two tickets for select concerts for $18 each. More details here.
    • Senior Rush
      • Students aren’t the only ones who can score discounted seats: Senior rush tickets can be purchased at the David Geffen Hall Box Office on the day of the performance. Be sure to call ahead for availability. More info available here.
    • MyPhil
      • As if Free Fridays, Student and Senior rush tickets weren’t enough, the Philharmonic has one more incentive up its sleeve: MyPhil. MyPhil is a three-concert subscription series for concert-goers 35 and younger. Tickets are $35 per concert and you have the option to purchase tickets for your friends at an additional $35 each.
  • The Metropolitan Opera

    • Met Students
      • The Met offers full-time undergraduate and graduate students access to up to four tickets per performance at a special rate of $35 (plus a $2.50 facility fee). Register for a student account here to access this deal.
    • Rush Tickets
      • If you’re not a student, or if $35 still sounds pretty pricey to you, the Met has another deal with which to entice you: Rush Tickets. $25 tickets are provided on a first-come, first served basis to all Met performances. All you have to do is create an account, log in, and click the button for that day’s performance. (Take it from someone who snagged a Rush Ticket to sit in the Orchestra level at the Met’s opening night performance of Norma starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Joseph Calleja and Joyce DiDonato: This deal is bonkers, and I kind of already regret sharing it with all of you because I’ll probably never luck into anything like that again.)
    • Standing Room
      • Standing Room is exactly what it sounds like: You purchase either a $20 ticket to stand in the back of the Family Circle or a $25–$30 ticket to stand in the back of the Orchestra. Pro-tips: Please wear sensible shoes, and if you are on the petite side, you may want to call ahead to see just how tall the leaning bars in front of you are. (If you do this for a Wagner opera, you are a true hero and deserve a medal of honor.)
    • Score-Desk Seats
      • Score-desk seats are located in the Family Circle Boxes. They offer no view of the stage, but you do get a desk, a reading light, and a phenomenal acoustic experience. Scores are available for rental, or you can bring your own. Tickets are $12 for the general public, $10 for Metropolitan Opera Guild members, and a crazy-low $8 for students. If you want an evening of solo music study and don’t mind missing out on the visuals of what’s happening on the stage, these tickets are perfect.
  • Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

    • 50% Advance Discount Tickets
    • $10 Student Rush Tickets (College Students)
      • Not the kind of person who plans ahead? 50% off still a bit too pricey for your budget? Not to worry! Just show up one hour prior to curtain with a valid Student ID and you can snag up to two $10 tickets.
    • Free Student Rush Tickets (Grades K–12)
      • Students in grades K–12 can obtain free tickets to CMS concerts one hour prior to curtain. And because kindergartners definitely shouldn’t be attending concerts all on their own just yet, this deal comes with the opportunity to purchase up to two additional adult tickets at a 50% discount.
  • Carnegie Hall

    • $10 Public Rush Tickets
      • How does a $10 ticket to a sold-out concert in the Stern Auditorium sound? These rush tickets are available to anyone on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the concert. All you need to do is show up at the Box Office and maybe wear your lucky socks.
    • $10 Student Rush Tickets
      • And if you’re a student, it’s even easier to score one of those coveted $10 seats, since you’ll only be competing with your fellow students for the seats, rather than the general public.
    • Notables Membership
      • If you read the Carnegie Hall season brochure utterly enraptured by the page-turning material in front of you, you might want to consider joining Notables. Notables memberships are available to anyone 40 and under for the low price of $20. As a member, you’ll have access to complimentary tickets, as well as $20 discount tickets to many Carnegie Hall presentations throughout the season.
    • Partial View
      • You may not have a perfect view of the stage with these seats, but you certainly won’t miss out on any of the sounds. And they’re 50% off the original ticket price.
  • Kaufman Music Center

    • Student Discounts
      • Students can purchase discounted tickets for select concert series performances throughout the season. Tickets range from $5 to $25. That’s right … FIVE DOLLARS. That’s cheaper than most lattes, and the concert will probably prove more invigorating than that temporary caffeine fix.
    • Senior Discounts
      • Seniors can access discounted tickets for select concerts for as low as $20. It may not be $5, but $20 is still pretty darn good.
    • Tuesday Matinees
      • Subscribe to the Tuesday Matinee series and see seven concerts for $98. That’s only $14 per ticket!

But Wait, There’s More…

    • 92Y

      • Senior Rush Tickets
        • Seniors aged 62 and up can purchase tickets one hour prior to curtain at a discounted price, typically about 50% off.
    • Symphony Space

    • Bargemusic

      • Student Tickets
        • Who wouldn’t want to attend a concert in a floating concert hall on the banks of Brooklyn? Student tickets are available for $20 a piece.
      • Senior Tickets
        • Students aren’t the only ones who save at Bargemusic — seniors can purchase $35 tickets.
    • WQXR’s Midday Masterpieces

      • Need a little afternoon pick-me-up? Reserve a free ticket to one of WQXR’s Midday Masterpieces concerts, featuring Juilliard students and alumni performing on the first Wednesday of every month at The Greene Space. Seeing the concert live is best, but in the age of technology we (and countless other classical music institutions) have also found a way to bring the music straight to you, whether you’re in New York or Paris, Buenos Aires or Rome, curled up on your couch or stuck behind your desk at work. WQXR’s Midday Masterpieces are transmitted straight to you via Facebook Live for all you wonderful classical music lovers who aren’t able to join us live in NYC.
    • BAM

      • $10 Rush Tickets
          • Seniors, students 29 and under, veterans and active military members can purchase up to two $10 rush tickets to live performances.

And More…

      • Performing Arts Library

        • Catch an intimate (and FREE) performance in the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. Admission lines generally form one hour prior to curtain. Browse the current performance offerings on the NYPL website.
      • Churches and Synagogues

        • Churches and synagogues across New York City offer a variety of free (or fairly inexpensive) classical music performances throughout the year. Some options include Trinity Church Wall Street (check out their Evening Concert Series and Bach + One, both free), Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and Church of St. Luke in the Fields. And check the websites of your nearby churches and synagogues to see what they have coming up on their calendar.
      • Universities and Conservatories

        • From guest performances to masterclasses to student-led ensemble work, there are plenty of opportunities to see and hear classical music at the city’s many colleges, universities, and conservatories. Check out the performance/events calendars at the Manhattan School of Music, The Juilliard School, The New School, Columbia University, NYU, the CUNY schools and any of the city’s other myriad learning institutions. Tickets are often available for a fairly modest price (especially for students) — sometimes, they are even free!
      • Public Performances

        • Summer is the busiest season for the city’s free public performances, like the Metropolitan Opera’s Summer HD Festival, the NY Philharmonic’s Concerts in the Parks, and the New York City Opera in Bryant Park. However, this city is crawling with classical musicians (among other things … ) year-round who want to give their work a stage, so keep your eyes and ears open, and you’re bound to hear about a performance in the subway, a cool gig at a bar in your neighborhood, or some avant-garde performance in the most unexpected of places.

Do Your Research

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the many ways you can snag inexpensive tickets to classical music concerts throughout New York City. So, our very last tips are … drumroll, please! …

      • Google

        • Heard about a cool concert only to find out the tickets are bonkers expensive? Use Google to search for discount tickets or coupon codes. And try searching “Free classical music concerts in NYC this week/weekend,” and see what comes up for some cheap/free ideas.

And, finally…

      • Social Media

        • Follow all your favorite concert halls, performing ensembles and artists on Facebook and Instagram. If you’re lucky, they’ll post some enticing offers that they have for upcoming performances to their social media accounts, and you’ll be the first to know!

There are more deals and discounts out there than you’d think, so do your research and you’re bound to find a steal.

Do you have a hack of your own that we didn’t mention? Share it in the comments!

 7 Comments — including only the ones with tips

Diane Couzens from New York

The New York Flute Club offers an annual concert series featuring internationally renowned performers and curated performances. Concerts are free for NYFC members, $25 for non-members, $15 for students and seniors (65+) at the door. You can purchase tickets in advance through the NYFC Eventbrite.

John Soppe

Chamber Orchestra of New York offers 50% discounts to those under 40. You just need to sign up to the Under 40 Circle of Friends Program on the website with your email address: Tickets normally are normally $4o-$50 for concerts at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall.

Jeanette from Highland Park, NJ

Yes, you should look into the Peoples Symphony Concerts. The three series (one at Town Hall with reserved seating) are wonderful. They bring well-known chamber artists and eclectic ones. Individual tickets are around $15.

Stephen Schwarz from Jersey City.

Google Peoples Symphony. $48 buys you tickets to 6 classical concerts, largely piano and chamber music. I’ve been going the past five years and can’t conceive of a better live classical music bargain.

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