I remember when the Boston Symphony Orchestra held its yearly fund-raising "marathon." Now, in retrospect, I realize that the use of the word "marathon" probably had some relation to the famous yearly running event held in that city, but the BSO marathon had nothing to do with running. It had a little to do with music: our family was featured as one of the "premiums" for a few years: a concert by the "Famous Fine Family of Fiddlers and Flutists." I kid you not. My father, brother, and I played many a Beethoven Serenade for the benefit of the orchestra.
Most of the "premiums" were not musical though. For a certain amount of money you could take a plane ride with one of the many BSO pilots, have a dinner cooked by many of the BSO chefs, and do all sorts of nifty social things that allowed you to hobnob in a purposeful way with the people you heard play concerts in Symphony Hall. Smaller amounts of money got you tote bags and other manufactured (and usually donated) merchandise.
My friend Martha just told me about a truly musically-specific fund raising idea from the other BSO--the one in Baltimore. They offer a week-long orchestral workshop in June, where they divide the orchestra in half (making two orchestras), and fill the other half of each orchestra with musicians who would like to have the experience of rehearsing and performing with the Baltimore Symphony. The repertoire is difficult (Pines of Rome and Also Sprach Zarathustra), so only musicians who would be able to play the parts would apply. They clearly are not looking to work with students (you have to be 22 or over to participate): they are looking for amateur adult musicians from all over the country (or perhaps the world) who have the desire and the money to take a musical vacation in Baltimore. Assistant conductors will share the rehearsals with Marin Alsop, but I imagine that she will be conducting the concert, which will certainly be a great experience for everyone participating. For an additional fee you can have your chamber ensemble coached by one of the orchestra-member faculty members, for a bit more you get to play chamber music with a faculty member, and for an even more additional fee you get to perform in a chamber music concert with them.
I hope that this academy is truly successful for the participants and for the orchestra.