What is your audience at concerts?
I have noticed that in Denmark the average age of people at classical concerts is above 70 (!), especially if an event is free. It is quite often, that we are the only one below 30.
Back in Russia (10 years ago at least), the classical and jazz concerts would be 20-30% full of students. And if the event is free it would be full of children. It was quite normal to go for a concert/theater at the first or second dates. For parents (mid age people), it is usual to go to a performance in conservatorium to celebrate something etc. But here we see mostly old and very old people, almost zero teens, and zero children. Usually my son is the only one child, if we do not go with friends.
What about your orchestra? Who comes to you?
Usually family and friends.
In Italy, audience for ordinary classical concerts is made of citizens born between 40s’ to 80s’, and rarely those who born after 80s’ and 90s’(mainly pupils from conservatory I think), very young children are extremely rare and hard to be found at auditorium.
You think the average age for classical music attendance in general is high, you should see it for chamber music here! :-)
In this area (DC/Baltimore), it really depends on the nature of the concert. Broadly, I would say that it skews old and young -- folks who are 60+, and families (often Asian) with children. The latter tends to especially populate the concerts given by violinists and pianists (whether concerto or recital) -- presumably tiger moms taking violin/piano-playing junior to see the greats.
Most, if not all, of my symphony concerts are for charity and generally attract a wide mix of all ages. My chamber orchestra concerts, whether or not for charity, tend to have an somewhat older audience - perhaps middle aged to put it charitably :)
Here it varies widely depending on the program.
Skewing pretty old around here, even for a community orchestra concert. Some exceptions in that case, of course, as family and friends come to support, but overall still old.
Well, classical music is not really popular between children-teenagers. Second, of these want to go to a concert, chances are they have no money and then they can only go when their parents can go with them. Third, if you're not passionate about classical music, going to a 2 hours concert doesn't look like a good plan. Yeah, your parents can "force" you to go, once, twice may be, but very few will understand and enjoy it.
I think the age of the music matters more here because the older people in the audience are so used to living in a cultural backwater (even though it isn't one any more) and rarely having the opportunity to hear the great masterworks in their city. The younger people listening to the lesser-known or newly-composed music will probably continue to be open-minded about new music when they get older, because they tend to be more immersed in the burgeoning arts scene here and have a more cosmopolitan outlook. It's mostly a result of the giant shift in the local culture in recent years, not age per se.
In Rochester, NY, the Rochester Philharmonic plays to a nearly packed house of gray hair. As others have noted, classical is dying. You can hear equal or better performances on music streaming services. Classical performance will only survive if soloists return to improvising, as they did in original performances in the 1700s and 1800s. Mozart was the greatest improviser of his time, and was a 'rock star'. Music has to be alive, in the sense of unpredictable like a sports performance, to be interesting in a concert setting.
I love the moments after the concert when people come backstsage and say "I'm tone-deaf but I really enjoyed it!" or again "You looked great!".
Mike wrote “but the music has to be alive - not something you can hear streaming via your mobile phone.”
We're fans of chamber music and the audience for those concerts is decidedly geriatric with a smattering of younger folks who are young musicians.
I went to a concert last night, noticed the crowd again, and marveled at those still going -- surmounting the steps and the state of their own bodies with shuffling, canes, walkers and each other. I think they put many younger people to shame with that effort.
Younger people will be old one day doing the very same as these older folks I suppose! Maybe it takes a lifetime to discover the beauty of classical music. That said, the "pop" program offered by the local symphony still remains the most popular of their concert series. Much fewer can take modern experimental repertoire.
My audience as an ensemble is usually between their early teens and older parents (as I'm a high school student who participates in several).
Andrew, are you in the Camelia orchestra or the sac philharmonic?
Camellia Symphony. I'm not a pro by any means, though I'd like to be good enough to compete for a spot in Sac Phil 5-10 years from now!
I premiered a piece for violin and piano at a big contemporary music venue in Brooklyn recently. I invited one of my teachers/friends, who plays in the Met Opera Orchestra who is in his late 40’s. During the reception, after congratulating me, he commented that 1. He was shocked that he was most likely the oldest person in the crowd and 2. That it was a sold-out show. He said, ‘Shit, maybe classical music isn’t dead!!’
Joshua Bell, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Staatskapelle Weimar, and the Minnesota Symphony have all come to the University I'm studying at this year and tickets sold out far in advance for those. There's even a fairly lively crowd when the school symphony plays too, and faculty soloists tend to draw a fairly large crowd as well!
Joshua Bell was at symphony Center Chicago last year and the audience was mixed both young and old in equal proportion. The concert was not dull with Bell talking about the next piece he was about to play.
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