The Utah Symphony experimented with presenting abbreviated concerts on Thursday evenings during last season.

Although at Abravanel Hall, the atmosphere was intentionally casual and informal, with the musicians of the orchestra in business casual dress rather than formal wear.

Last year's two "Casual Thursdays" concerts proved successful enough that symphony directors wanted them to continue. Now dubbed "Music Exposed," the Utah Symphony will play three abbreviated concerts this season, with the first one this Thursday.

"The audience reaction to the concerts last year was strong, although ticket sales weren't as good as we would have liked," Jeff Bram, director of symphony artistic planning, told the Deseret Morning News.

However, the symphony felt it was worth repeating. And Bram doesn't think advance ticket sales are indicative of the public's interest. "I think there is walk-up appeal."

With some 2,800 seats in Abravanel Hall, there are enough tickets available for anyone who wants to attend, even if it's at the last minute.

"Response was good, and these concerts provide the audience with behind-the-scenes interaction with the performers," Bram said.

The audience can ask questions, and the performers discuss the program's music. "They're also willing to talk between the movements," Bram said.

The first "Music Exposed" concert this Thursday features pianist Shai Wosner joining the symphony and guest conductor Stefan Sanderling performing Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor. The other two concerts are scheduled for March 20, with JoAnn Falletta conducting Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, and April 17, with Keith Lockhart and pianist Horacio Gutierrez for Brahms' First Piano Concerto. The concerts begin at 7 p.m.

Bram is enthusiastic about the "Music Exposed" series. "A lot of places are doing them. I believe we can reach new people, which is important for any symphony orchestra, and I feel good about 2008."

While there hasn't been a survey of last season's attendance, Bram said he believes the audience was made up of many first-time concertgoers, along with a good number of veteran concert attendees.

"Music Exposed" concerts appeal to a newer audience, Bram said, because the pieces selected for these programs are all well known. "Either people have heard them, or have heard about them." And the concerts are also considerably shorter than the Friday and Saturday night concerts because the entire program isn't played.

"I hope people try these concerts and give them a chance," Bram said. "It's a great way to be exposed to classical music."

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