Orchestras court younger crowd through innovative concert experiences

Posted on: May 3, 2012

Thursday (5/3) on the Wall Street Journal online, Arian Campo-Flores writes, “Entering this city’s new Frank Gehry-designed concert hall for a recent evening at the symphony, you might have thought you’d stumbled into the wrong venue. Aqua and lavender LED lights bathed the lobby. The sound system pumped out electronic music. Young women in stiletto heels and tight skirts ordered cocktails at a bar. This was no nightclub, though. It was an experimental late-night music event from the New World Symphony called Pulse, aimed at attracting new audiences for live classical music by reimagining the traditional concert experience. … Pulse is one of many unconventional formats sprouting up around the country as orchestras try to regenerate aging audiences and improve their long-term financial prospects. … A League of American Orchestras report, drawing on various data sources, found the proportion of U.S. adults who had attended a classical concert in the previous year has been declining steadily over a 25-year span, from 12.9% in 1982 to 9.3% in 2008. … Yet classical-music fans are adopting digital media, such as Internet radio, more rapidly than the overall population, surveys show. ‘The art form is strong,’ says Jesse Rosen, president of the orchestra league. The challenge is to translate that interest into a desire ‘to be part of the live experience.’ ”

Photo by Josh Ritchie/Wall Street Journal

Posted May 3, 2012