The younger audience

As we all know, the classical music world is looking for a new, younger audience. Just today I learned about a chamber music concert where a lot of the audience was young. Turned out these younger people worked for companies that gave money to the group that presented the concert, and they’d gotten free tickets. But still they seemed to love the music.

(An obvious question: Does the presenting group have these people’s names? It’s important to market future concerts to them!)

And then at the ASOL conference in Pittsburgh, I met the new executive director of an important orchestra, who’s just 30 years old. He has a new marketing director with dynamic ideas, who’s also in his 30s. And, I’m told, the new board chairman of this orchestra is also under 40.

All this focused something I’ve been thinking for a while. There’s no shortage of younger people who work in the classical music business. My wife, a classical music critic for The New York Times, is in her 30s, and many times has told me how many colleagues she has of about the same age. I know plenty of orchestra administators (along with staff members of other classical music organizations) who are in their 30s or their 40s. Orchestral musicians, too, can be young, even in major orchestras. Some are in their 20s. As I’ve pointed out before, orchestras now are younger than their audience.

So if people in the field are young, there’s got to be a younger audience, out there somewhere, ready to come to concerts whenever someone figures out how to attract it. That’s much more logical than thinking that the younger people who work in classical music are somehow aberrations, so untypical of people their age that they can’t possibly be representative. I’d add that this pessimistic supposition doesn’t fit my experience. All the younger people I’ve met in the classical music business seem perfectly normal (one measure of which is that they all have friends who don’t pay attention to classical music at all).

So where’s the younger audience? I bet it’s not so very far away.

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