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That's the ticket: Gallo center seats on sale

The Modesto Community Concert Association is the first group out of the gate to begin selling tickets for programs at the Gallo Center for the Arts, opening downtown this fall.

Season-ticket sales will begin in a few weeks for other local groups, with the center announcing its own events in May.

The concert association plans to present five shows between Oct. 18 and April, 17, 2008: 1960s folk group the New Christy Minstrels, the Golden Dragon Acrobats, the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble, the Pacific Coast Horns and flutist Bettine Clemen. All will perform in the 1,200-seat Mary Stuart Rogers Theater, the largest of the center's two auditoriums.

Ticket prices should please people who feared that the Gallo center would be prohibitively expensive. Subscriptions for all five concerts are $60 for adults and $5 for those younger than 18. For $75, you can sit in one of the 104 box seats, which are similar to easy chairs and come with more leg room.

"I think it's going to be quite successful," said Hal Kinser, who manages the 56-year-old nonprofit concert association. "It's a reasonably priced series. It is a good series, and I think there are an awful a lot of people who would like to see what a concert performance is like in the Gallo center."

People have sent checks for subscriptions even though the adult prices are 20 percent to 50 percent higher than the association currently charges and the ticket buyers haven't laid eyes on the venue, Kinser said. The center is under construction and seats haven't been installed.

The Gallo center's own events are expected to include big-name performers, jazz, country, classical and multicultural concerts, touring Broadway shows and dance programs.

The $47.75 million center will be outfitted with state-of-the art sound and lighting equipment and will be a huge improvement over Modesto high schools, where the community concert association and most local performing groups present their shows.

"I think the venue is going to be totally fantastic," said Darrell Staats, a concert association board member. "I think it's going to be a new adventure for us, and I think we're going to be exceedingly satisfied."

Resident companies

The concert association is one of four resident companies that will call the Gallo center home. During the center's inaugural season, Townsend Opera Players plans to stage "Die Fledermaus," "Porgy and Bess" and the musical "Miss Saigon" in the 444-seat Foster Family Theater. Central West Ballet plans to present "The Nutcracker," "Romeo and Juliet" and a mixed-repertory program, alternating between the center's two theaters. The Modesto Symphony Orchestra is to perform in the larger theater but hasn't announced its program.

To save administrative costs, the Mo-desto Community Concert Association is selling its season tickets rather than having Gallo center staff do so.

The rest of the groups will sell their subscriptions through the center's box office, opening late this month or early next month in a venue to be announced. The center has hired a dozen part-time ticket takers who are beginning training, said John J. Turchon, the center's director of customer service.

The center is to open to the public for tours Aug. 18 during the Modesto Art and Wine Festival. There will be local performances that month, but grand-opening festivities with headliner entertainment is scheduled at the end of September. No inaugural headliner has been announced.

A different tune

Volunteers are busy on three committees: one planning the opening festivities, another raising community awareness and a third handling fund raising, said executive director Dave Pier.

Kinser, the concert association manager, is much happier now than he was a year ago, when he voiced concerns about high rental fees at the Gallo center.

Judging from the early response, he said that he believes there's a good chance the association will double its 600 subscriptions after the move to the center.

Martha Azizi, a concert association board member, said that she doesn't think ticket sales will be a problem.

"People go to San Francisco, they pay $80 or $100," she said. "Here, that's a season ticket for Modesto," she said.

Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan can be reached at lmillegan@modbee.com or 578-2313.


TICKETS, PLEASE!

The Modesto Community Concert Association's 2007-08 season at the Gallo Center for the Arts:

Oct. 18: Pacific Coast Horns, whose "monster brass sound" spans jazz, pop, rock and R&B

Nov. 17: New Christy Minstrels, the folk singing group known for its 1960s hits "Green, Green" and "Today"

Jan. 16, 2008: Nashville Mandolin Ensemble, which performs classical, jazz and pop, along with new music from contemporary composers

March 2, 2008: Golden Dragon Acrobats, a Chinese troupe that has performed in 65countries and 50 states, at prestigious venues such as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

April 17, 2008: Bettine Clemen, flutist, whose concerts combine musical styles ranging from light classical to pop, jazz and ethnic

All shows begin at 7:30 p.m. except for the acrobats, who start at 2:30 p.m. Performances are in the 1,200-seat Mary Stuart Rogers Theater, the larger of the center's two auditoriums. Season subscriptions are $60 for adults, open seating, $5 for students younger than 18, and $75 for box seats. Order tickets at 549-0214. For more information about the center, visit www.gallocenter.org.

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