In my followup post, I suggested that all of this is speculation, and should be offered a little more tentatively than with the prophetic sense of doom some people adopt. But let me offer yet another thought. How does the existing classical music audience listen? Do they pay full attention? Do they know what they’re hearing? Or does their attention wander, and might they be helped by something that would tell them even things as simple as which instrument is playing?
I’ve done some work with classical music audiences, at three big orchestras, and my sense is that these people — whose love of classical music is truly beautiful — don’t always know what they hear. I vividly remember a focus group in which a long-time subscriber said he couldn’t identify the instruments.
But I’m using very scanty data here. I’d like to see a large research project, in which we’d find out — factually, and very thoroughly — what the current audience hears at concerts. We really don’t know, and our planning for whatever changes we might want to make would be vastly helped if we knew what we’re starting from.