Missing info

Last week I was in a meeting about a project I’m working on, involving ways to get new people to classical concerts. A lot of good people are directly or indirectly involved in this, along with a lot of performing groups.

And one thing that struck me was that we didn’t have any data. None of us knew what draws people to classical concerts, or what kind of concert newcomers might like. Two vague theories floated around — that newcomers ought to start with easy music, or, on the other hand, that they’d be attracted to something a little unusual, something with substance. The second theory is a lot more fun, and leads people who believe in it to plan more interesting concerts. But maybe the first theory is right. I don’t have a clue.

And who’s to say new classical concertgoers all are the same? Maybe some like easy music, and some would enjoy something they’d never heard before. One further theory, by the way, says you can program almost anything for newcomers, precisely because they don’t have many expectations. (And then there are refinements — that, for instance, you can program more or less anything, as long as nothing on the program is very long.)

But I wish we knew what we were doing here. Top-grade professionals, working on something crucial to the entire field, shouldn’t be flying so blind. (As I trust we’d all agree we were doing.)

Just had a thought — maybe some of us here can help to get some of this missing information. What drew you to your first classical concert? What might have attracted someone you know?

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