On mature audiences

Lots of smart people work to make classical music – and orchestral concerts in particular – more appealing to young audiences. This is great, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, said bathwater being either the things about classical concerts that are great, and/or the mature people that regularly patronize said concerts.

One mistake that we in the biz regularly make is to assume that either people come to classical music early in life or not at all.  But guess what: all those older people filling the seats didn’t come to the orchestra world as ‘the class of 1964’.  Some probably started coming when they got their first real job because their company made tickets available, some might have started coming after their kids went away to college, others might have started coming as part of a senior group.

As far as I’m concerned, people come to classical music when they’re ready for it. This music is the deepest philosophy that we can imbibe in our souls, and it requires a maturity and sensitivity that many young people lack but develop with age and perspective.

And I think there’s a casual age-ism in lumping everyone over 60 together as “old people” and everyone under 40 as “young” (the middle aged 40-60 crowd scarcely gets any attention in the orchestral universe) and it’s something we ought to avoid. To me the best thing about classical music is that it’s so multigenerational.

The fact that there are many grey heads scattered throughout the concert hall isn’t a cause for panic – it’s a testament to the fact that once classical music hooks you, you stay with it for life.