Critic: The new-old classical audience

Posted on: August 19, 2013

“Orchestras, opera companies, chamber groups, recital societies: They need to renew their audiences. They always did and they always will, whether or not critics frown (or yawn) at this perennial imperative,” writes Arthur Kaptainis in Saturday’s (8/17) Gazette (Montreal, Canada). “Where do we find the new people? From the ranks of the young, of course. Not. The true source of classical replenishment is not the fountain of youth but the reservoir of the middle-aged and the quarry of the borderline elderly. There was evidence of this demographic reality during the final weekend of the Lanaudière Festival outside Joliette. Grey heads abounded, under the roof and on the lawn. Sure, there were thirtysomethings here and there, even preteens, teens and twentysomethings. But it was surely significant that a chain of retirement residences had set up a promotional kiosk on the lawn and sponsored the concert on Saturday night by Kent Nagano, 62, Emanuel Ax, 64, and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, 78. This was a crowd of a certain age. The funny thing: Many of these old-timers were also newcomers. Clapping between movements was persistent…. It is evidence that the classical crowd is being replenished … that orchestras and opera companies should be vigilant in seeking new listeners and spectators, but they should not panic.”

Posted August 19, 2013