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Behind the Scenes / ORANGE COUNTY

Solo Ensemble

September 18, 1997

So you went to the concert alone and got stuck between a jumpy family of five on the left and a make-out couple on the right.

Hard to enjoy the music that way. But there's a solution. Buy a ticket to the Pacific Symphony's Classic Encounter for Singles and mingle with other unattached music lovers who didn't qualify to use the car-pool lane on the drive over.

As do other performance groups in the county, the orchestra encourages single subscribers. It sets aside a block of tickets and seats singles together. But the orchestra folks go a step further: They host a pre-performance party so introductions can be made over hors d'oeuvres instead of the first 15 notes of an overture.

Recently, 200 single-ticket subscribers gathered around tables on the grass at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre to take in chicken and cheesecake before taking in a performance of Ravel's "Bolero" and other guitar-generated mood music.

Says one concert-goer: "With this group, even if we aren't making the love connection, we're making friends because we go to more than one event."

Orchestra vice president Lou Spisto says: "We've offered the program since 1987, and, over the past decade, we've been able to attract 7,000 subscribers to the program."

The "Under the Spanish Moon" concert Sept. 6 was the last of the summer series, but no one attending seemed concerned. The winter season kicks off Oct. 8 with Brahms. Carl St.Clair will conduct pianist Horacio Gutierrez and the orchestra at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

The pre-party will be at the Westin South Coast Plaza. Call (714) 755-5799 or check out the Web site at www.pso.org.

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