For the past three years Jake and I have had been on a mission to find interesting professional level musical performances that are ideally free. Part of his band grade has been based on papers (about one per quarter) written on outside activities, hence all the concert going.
Fortunately we live near Richmond which has a thriving arts scene and two universities. Virginia Commonwealth University has been our go to source for free concerts. We have discovered that at VCU there is a very good Jazz program and there are all sorts of Jazz concerts to attend. Jake has a marked fondness for Jazz so the concerts were generally a positive experience.
As for low points, I would have to say the Nutcracker was it. I was scrambling to find something at the end of the semester and found out the hard way that there is almost nothing between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the end I had to shell out cash for what turned out to be decent seats for the Nutcracker. Jake really did not want to be there, but he was stuck. It was a good production (not as good as the NY City Ballet I grew up with, however not many are) and I tried to get him interested... In the end he endured it and banged out a paper.
Since then we kept our eyes open and discovered the Richmond Folk Festival (free!), musical events at area synagogues (reasonably priced), and University of Richmond (free with the bonus of parking and a gorgeous campus). And today for his last middle school band paper the Greater Richmond Children's Choir.
Originally we were going to attend a senior guitar recital at VCU, but I saw a blurb about GRCC in the Richmond Times Dispatch. We hadn't attended any choir performances and this one was reputed to be quite good. Two years ago Jake would have dismissed this out of hand, but he has learned since not to be so choosy. We both thought it would be a nice change of pace and decided to check them out.
GRCC was outstanding.
They have four different choruses ranging from the beginning level Treble chorus, to the more experienced Concert Choir, then the Pro Arte Choir (unchanged voices), the Cavalieri Choir (changed voices and male only), and the Cantare Choir (Pro Arte combined with Cavalieri). They did a broad range of music from Mozart and Bach, to gospel, and Ugandan folk music. There were some moments that were absolutely breath taking. I'm so glad I found out about the performance in time for us to attend.
It has been a chore tracking down suitable performances, but it was been well worth the effort.