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Love a Little Better

No. 2: Rock the Powdered Wig

Support a local classical music ensemble. A simple pair of tickets to one concert would be great, but a subscription is where the smart money is.

Beginning with the economic downturn, private money became very guarded and the revenue from contributions on which these ensembles depend fell off a cliff. Even the best, most beloved ensembles got the crap kicked out them. Those that survive are often still struggling.

That's where you come in: A big piece of our musical culture is at risk of collapsing and you can do something about it -- while impressing the heck out of your date.

The details vary from ensemble to ensemble, but the drop in subscriptions is a national phenomenon. Even regular attenders prefer to buy single tickets at the last minute these days. That creates a cash flow problem and makes it extremely hard for the business office and artistic management to plan entire seasons.

Subscriptions are generally cheaper, on a per-concert basis, than single tickets. You can often buy a small subscription to only three or four events, so you don't have commit to going to a concert every week, for instance.

If for some reason you can't go, you may be able to donate the ticket back to the ensemble for resale. That allows you to write it off on your taxes. The ensemble makes twice as much from the same ticket. You've done good.

As a bonus, many regional orchestras have Valentine's Day special events, coordinating with a local restaurant for a dinner and concert package, for instance.

The program and the quality of the playing will vary, but among regional orchestras the level of ability generally is still quite high. Especially on Valentine's Day and other popular holidays, you stand a good chance of hearing familiar music performed well.

No. 3: Wrap It Up in Vinyl

If your true love loves a particular artist or style, see if that music is available on old-fashioned 33 1/3 RPM long-playing discs. A large number of artists offer limited runs in the old medium, so even new music can often be purchased this way.

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