Orchestras struggle to feed different “appetite” for classical music

Posted on: September 1, 2011

Monday (8/29) on Salon.com, Lewis Whittington writes, “Strikes, closures, bankruptcies, record deficits—the classical-music world has been rocked by troubling financial news in recent months. The city symphony is in trouble—and the size and cultural footprint of the city hardly matter. … The problems are easy to identify: The recession has pummeled charitable giving and endowments, while the audience has continued to age. … ‘All the data tells us all new audiences are looking for different things,’ said Jesse Rosen, the president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras, the industry’s leading advocacy group outside of musicians’ unions, who hopes orchestras use this period to make sweeping positive changes. ‘The appetite for classical music remains as strong as ever,’ he said. ‘[But] the desire for it is expressing itself in different ways besides people buying tickets. … The audience now is segmented; you still have a large core of subscription seasons of people who are older and like things never to change,’ said Rosen, while younger audiences are more willing to watch YouTube videos of symphonies. … John Thomas Dodson, musical director of the Adrian Symphony Orchestra, located in southern Michigan, has fostered artistic development, as well as robust new audiences and solvency. … Dodson says he tries to devise unique concert concepts with other cultural and community events with audience crossover appeal.”

Posted September 1, 2011