Classical concerts must appeal without pandering

Posted on: October 8, 2010

In a lengthy and wide-ranging entry on the 3 Quarks Daily blog on Monday (10/4), journalist and composer Colin Eatock discusses various initiatives to make classical music concertgoing more appealing. “Many orchestras nowadays have ‘casual concerts’: audiences are encouraged to dress informally, and the conductor may speak from the stage about the music on the programme. … An even bolder idea is to install giant screens in concert halls that display simultaneous projections of a live concert from different angles—close-ups of a pianist’s hands, for example—and this has already been done in few places. The technology is expensive, but the investment could bring about a revolution in the way orchestral concerts are experienced, just as supertitles revolutionized the opera world twenty-five years ago. … However, I’ve noticed that some initiatives, aimed at attracting new audiences, can come across as little more than transparent marketing ploys undertaken for the sole purpose of putting more bums in seats. First and foremost, the institutions of classical music must give the impression that they sincerely want to keep up with the times, not that they’re being dragged into the twenty-first century kicking and screaming. It’s not enough to do things in new ways; it’s also necessary to convince the coveted ‘younger demographic’ that they’re not being pandered to, and that efforts to court them are more than token gestures or acts of desperation.”

Posted October 8, 2010