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Symphony of Sounds

Steep price increases haven't deterred people from buying season tickets to the Modesto Symphony Orchestra's inaugural season at the Gallo Center for the Arts.

"We're selling four times as fast as we did in the last four years," said Paul Jan Zdunek, orchestra president and chief executive officer.

Zdunek said he has had no complaints about the price increases — necessary because the orchestra's costs are much higher at the state-of-the-art Gallo center than they were at school venues — since tickets went on sale April 1. Subscriptions to the six-concert classic series, which begins in October, are 76 percent higher — $390, up from $221. The top-price box seats have been one of the most popular choices.

Plenty of seats still are available. As of this week, the symphony has met 30 percent of its ticket sales goals, Zdunek said. Most performances will beheld in the Gallo center's 1,250-seat Mary Stuart Rogers Theater.

The orchestra has worked hard to create a 2007-08 lineup that will appeal to a broad audience, Zdunek said.

Guest soloists performing with the orchestra this year include disabled pianist Leon Fleisher, profiled in the 2006 Oscar-nominated short film "Two Hands;" violinists Kristin Lee and Lara St. John and Cuarteto Latinoamericano, a string quartet. Programs include well-known pieces by masters like Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky.

"It really is a year that everyone will find something in there that they're excited about," Zdunek said. "These are the greatest hits, so to speak. They're greatest hits because they've stood the test of time. We really think people will leave each concert really dying to come back for the next experience."

To cut costs and ensure that the hall is as full as possible, the orchestra has eliminated Sunday matinees and will schedule shows only on Friday and Saturday nights, Zdunek said.

At the same time, the orchestra is bringing back the Young Idol singing contest after a one-year hiatus and adding a new pops series featuring a holiday concert, "Phantom of the Opera" stars and Mariachi Cobre.

"I think there is a new audience out there that wants some lighter fare," Zdunek said. "It's selling really well."

Modesto Symphony Orchestra 2007-08 season tickets are available at the Gallo Center for the Arts box office, 1020 10th Street Place, or by calling 338-2100 or 877-488-3380. For more information, visit