Puget Sound Symphony

Not above wearing a car engine filter on his head on the podium (though I can’t recall what the filter was doing onstage), conductor Alan Shen has a clear idea of what’s important about orchestras—building a community that serves art and shares it with listeners—and what isn’t—crafting a snob-appeal luxury item to cater to attendees’ self-importance. He raised his Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra from nothing but the enthusiasm of friends, spreading the love by keeping ticket prices low, and now is launching their tenth season with Shostakovich’s tone-poem October, Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto no. 1 with soloist Jason Lu, and Beethoven’s Third. (Later this season come faves by Grieg and Holst and new works by orchestra members Scott Selfon and Kevin Tao.) In any musically healthy city, there ought to be room for professional and nonprofessional orchestras both: groups that play at a high level of polish and groups in which everyone’s there only because they love being there. This is what makes the PSSO as vital and welcome as anything that goes on in Benaroya or McCaw Halls. Though, if they haven’t yet, I still wish they’d go all the way and lose the tuxedos. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., www.psso.org. $4-$10. 7:30 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERT

Sat., Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m., 2008