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Meet The People Who Lined Up At 4 AM For Symphony Tickets

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Monday was a high holy holiday for the hardest of hardcore classical music fans in San Francisco. Fanatical followers of the San Francisco Symphony were lining up before 4 a.m. Monday morning for a cult-favorite, semi-secret event at Davies Symphony Hall called Single Tickets Day. Tickets for the symphony’s 2016-17 season went on sale online at 10 a.m. Monday, but these dedicated devotees lined up with their folding chairs, blankets and yoga mats for multiple hours to get first crack at them. was on the scene to meet the early birds who camped at Civic Center at 4 a.m. on a Monday just to get a two-hour head start on symphony tickets before online sales got underway.


Single Tickets Day is like a Black Friday doorbuster event — except the only thing for sale is symphony tickets, nobody gets trampled, and everyone is incredibly calm and sweet. By the time the box office opened at the crack of 8 a.m., nearly 100 people were lined up for the privilege of guaranteeing they got their symphony tickets before online sales (and the inevitable sellouts of the most popular concerts) commenced.


The very first person in line was Kim Hirschfeld (far right) who arrived at 3:45 a.m. “It was a little chilly, but not too bad,” she told The second person to arrive was Zach Morrison (middle), who arrived slightly after 4 a.m. for his 25th consecutive year (!) of camping out early for symphony tickets.

“We were the only people here for at least 45 minutes,” Mr. Morrison said, adding that “I’m looking forward to the Berlin Phil and to the Rite Of Spring.”


A common behavior among these symphony stalwarts was the last-second finalizing their concert ticket wish lists. Notice that the superfan on the left is composing her wish list on Christmas stationery, despite the date being July 18. She is surely stoked for the Holidays With The Symphony series, with more than a dozen different holiday shows featuring performances from Patti Austin, A Charlie Brown Christmas Live and the obligatory Handel’s Messiah.


The SF Symphony graciously hooked up its rabid fans with free coffee from the Pinup Girl Coffee Co. coffee truck and free breakfast from The Waffle Roost chicken-and-waffles truck.


Here we see Devyn of chicken-and-waffles truck fame, just cold handing out free chicken and waffle breakfast sandwiches to the first 200 people to get in line.


More free hookups were available in the form free SF Symphony gift bags being handed out by symphony staff. “I like the community aspect of people arriving early, waiting outside, getting to know each other,” said the symphony’s hospitality manager Kate Sautter. “It’s kind of an event.”


True symphony groupies were donning their cleverest classical music t-shirts. These and other great “inside joke” classical music t-shirts are available in the T-shirt section of the SF Symphony online store. (There is also a Socks section).


At precisely 8 a.m., the doors opened and the people went from a freezing cold Civic Center sidewalk to an incredibly swanky VIP ticket lobby. “The symphony is very punctual,” said superfan Zach Morrison, noting that sales always begin exactly at 8 a.m.


But why would people stand in line for 4 hours to get tickets they could just buy online? Because they get first crack at shows that are certain to sell out, plus they love tradition of it. “We like the ritual, that’s part of it,” said Mary O’Brien (at right, with yoga mat), a 19-year veteran of these early bird ticket sales.

“Years ago, we would stand in line for rock concert tickets,” she said. “Now we stand in line for symphony tickets.”

San Francisco Symphony tickets for the 2016-17 season are on sale now, with highlights like Yuja Wang plays ChopinJoshua Bell plays Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole, live orchestra accompaniments of the films Raiders of the Lost Ark, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Casablanca plus many other 2016-17 season highlights.

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Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.