August 29, 2002
Popularizing Classical Music?

BBC reports that attendance at classical concerts is dropping dramatically among young people:

Classical concert attendances have plummeted among younger people, according to a survey by the Policy Studies Institute think-tank.

The report, to be published in the journal Cultural Trends, also found that though more than one-third of people in the UK had attended a classical concert, only 12% did so in the past year.

(Source: Plastic: Nobody Listens To Classical Music Anymore --> BBC )

A couple of years ago, the Norwegian Stavanger Symphony Orchestra did a brilliant trick to attract younger audiences: they selected some of the more well-known classics from their regular Thursday night concerts and profiled them into a youth-targeted, discounted "Friday series", launching the offering by playing free "marketing concerts" to students and schools...

I am myself an avid listener to classical music, but catching classical concerts is quite difficult given my current travel/work schedule. I did go to one so far this year, though, Mahler played by Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra... :-)

Conundrum: Quality classical music was one of the first widespread applications of the CD format -- for a variety of reasons exactly the opposite seems to be true for classical music on MP3s...

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Comments

I am a surgeon with no formal musical training who loves classical music. Sharing your concerns about diminishing audiences, I have written a book (accompanying CDs narrated by Kevin Kline)entitled The Clasical Music Experience which can be seen on amazon.com. I hope it helps.

Posted by: Dr. Julius H. Jacobson II on April 29, 2003 03:08 AM

I am a surgeon with no formal musical training who loves classical music. Sharing your concerns about diminishing audiences, I have written a book (accompanying CDs narrated by Kevin Kline)entitled The Clasical Music Experience which can be seen on amazon.com. I hope it helps.

Posted by: Dr. Julius H. Jacobson II on April 29, 2003 03:08 AM

I am a surgeon with no formal musical training who loves classical music. Sharing your concerns about diminishing audiences, I have written a book (accompanying CDs narrated by Kevin Kline)entitled The Clasical Music Experience which can be seen on amazon.com. I hope it helps.

Posted by: Dr. Julius H. Jacobson II on April 29, 2003 03:08 AM

Hi Anders,

I appreciate you raising the issue of the importance of classical music. My thoughts are best summed up in this interesting flash piece:

http://www.valeriekampmeier.com/listen

Regard,
Robert

Posted by: Robert on May 6, 2003 02:06 AM

I live in Santa Monica, California. In one week our new auditorium will open in the civic center of Los Angeles. No one lives in the Civic Center, unfortunately. This stunning, beatiful new concert hall was designed by noted architect Frank Ghery, and the accoustics were engineered by the most famous sound engineer in Japan.

Why do I feel distant from a community event that should be a tribute to the new century. Our orchestra leader from Finland, Essa Pekka Solinen, receives praise from around the world on his tours. But classical music has long been the domain of the wealthy.

I could not easily afford the cost of a ticket to the old Dorothy Chandler Music Center. In the summer, concerts are given at the Hollywood Bowl, but the good seats there are expensive, too. Less expensive seats are far from the stage in this open air amphitheater, so the sound comes to one's ears over amplified speakers. Not the best auditory experience.

In New York, music listening seems more natural. Here, it has a touch of snobbery. Children are hardly welcomed, but children are the future.

We have two classical music radio stations in Los Angeles. In my thinking, they certainly don't make selections that would appeal to young people. I'm 61, and the Mozart, Debussy and Bach I love are broadcast, but not emphasized.

The Jazz radio station firmly knows that Miles Davis and John Coltrane are the gods of that musical form. Their extensive repertoire is featured often on the air because that is what people want. Why can't the producers of classical concerts and broadcast bring the gods of the orchestral form to the people? To the average people?

Posted by: Gary Curtis on October 19, 2003 01:03 AM

This is to Gary: Why not go to alternate concerts in the L.A. area? I'm not sure if the Beverly Hills Symphony is still extant, but it was pretty good. The Beach cities Orchestra is committed to playing the work of new composers on an ongoing basis. All universities with a music department have many concerts, recitals. Strauss' Danae was actually premired at USC way back in 1964. And this doesn't even touch the many summer orchestra festivals. Much as I would love to see the Gehry myself, it is not the be-all of L.A. music.
My general comment would be that there is not enough classical music around because no one is supporting all that there IS around. Orchestras are closing all the time. We don't want to leave our houses, our computers. I go to chamber groups performing in churches to ten people, all very old.
I think the best way to attract new people is with new material. There was an new opera(about two years ago) that was staged like a talk show (big screen in back of a row of people on stage, people getting up in the audience). This was in New York City, and I understand it was completely sold out. I wish I could remember more about it (I was sick at the time). Why aren't there more web sites covering new musical innovation? It's still going on, but you practically have to be a detective to find it.

Posted by: Jacqueline Nichols on March 17, 2004 12:16 AM
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