£500 might sound like a lot to fork out in one go. But look at what you get from the Southbank Centre's 'The Rest And More' package, introduced to tie in with next year's 20th century music series.
The biggest draw is a free ticket for each of the 70-ish concerts in the series (normally up to £65) - which include all the LPO's 2013 Southbank shows plus visitors like the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics. Also included are free entrance to 12 special weekend events (normally £25 each), free Southbank membership (£45) and a copy of Alex Ross's book (£10). That's potentially well over £2,000 worth of benefits for a £500 outlay.
So is it worth the investment? If you were planning to buy 20+ top price tickets anyway, then definitely. But most of us aren't, and the regular multibuy discounts of up to 30% bring down the cost of multiple purchases anyway.
So what about the educational perspective? Is it worth going to concerts you normally wouldn't bother with in the interests of extending your horizons? After all, the Southbank's marketing claims they're embracing contemporary music.
But that falls somewhat short of the mark when you look at what's actually been programmed. The concerts announced so far (covering the first half of the year) major on the usual Strauss, Shostakovich, Sibelius, with morsels of Vaughan Williams, Copland, and so on tossed in. In other words, the same old stuff, minus the 19th century bits. There's a possibility of some genuinely contemporary music in the latter half of the year, but given that Ross's book more or less grinds to a halt with Boulez, I don't expect more than a cursory rush through.
A bargain for some - but check what you're getting carefully before you buy.