“Mixing Up the Classical Concert”

Meurig Bowen:

Research about people who don’t engage with the genre – rather than people who do – is harder to achieve, but potentially far more illuminating. Over the years many classical promoters will have heard the following negative observations:

1) It’s too expensive – or at least too much money to risk if I don’t like it.

2) The pieces are too long – if I don’t like something, there’s a lot more of that to put up with before it stops.

3) I don’t like sitting down in one place for so long – I get twitchy, I want to move around, especially if …

4) … there’s not enough variety – it’s just a choir or orchestra or string quartet all evening.

5) I want to take a drink in with me.

6) Why can’t I keep my phone on?

Call me a cynic, but I don’t think this will work, at least not for the reasons the promoters hope. There’s that old Henry Ford quote, “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they’d have said, ‘a faster horse.’”

I think that the ideal people to draw into classical music are those who are already obsessed with other kinds of music (and the fact that we’ve lost them is one of the great pities of the twentieth century), and people who are that obsessed aren’t tweeting while they listen.

That said, I like to see any attempt to push music in new ways, and I hope this goes well for them.