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Orchestral concerts are hitting the high notes when it comes to audience interest

A new survey by the UK's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra reveals that 84 percent of those questioned would like to attend an orchestral concert

Published: Sep 5, 2023 04:24:59 PM IST

Orchestral concerts are hitting the high notes when it comes to audience interestAudiences for orchestral concerts are becoming increasingly broad and diverse, according to a survey conducted by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Image: Shutterstock

Orchestral concerts are often regarded as elitist entertainment, shunned by a large proportion of the population. But people are much more fond of this kind of musical performance than you might think, according to a new survey by the UK's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The survey was conducted by the London-based institution among 2,000 adults living in the UK. It reveals that 84% of those questioned would like to attend an orchestral concert. This compares with 79% in 2018, when the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted a previous audience survey.

This spike in interest in the classical repertoire can be explained, first and foremost, by a broadening of the audience for orchestral concerts. In fact, more attendees are newcomers to classical music (54%) than established regulars (37%) nationwide.

Several factors contribute to this shift, including the popularity of classical music online. Internet users are increasingly using pieces from the classical repertoire as the soundtrack to videos they post on YouTube or TikTok. The #classicalmusic hashtag, which has racked up more than 4.7 billion views on the social network, is proof of the craze.

Pop culture also plays an important role in introducing more and more people to classical music. A large number of hit video games, movies and TV series feature works from this musical genre. Others, such as "Westworld" or "Bridgerton" prefer to revisit pop and rock hits with a classical twist, ideal for reaching a young audience who might otherwise never have shown any interest in classical music.

Also read: Young people are turning to classical music to help them study

But this new audience isn't content with listening to classical music on streaming platforms; they'd also like to see it performed live by an orchestra. Nearly 30% of those surveyed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra would one day like to attend an orchestral concert devoted to musicals, pop music or movie music. A quarter of respondents would like to see a movie screening with a live orchestra or a family friendly orchestral concert suitable for young and old alike. Chamber music concerts are less popular with the general public, with only 12% of respondents interested in attending one.

In any case, James Williams, managing director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, sees these statistics as "most welcome news." "After a hugely challenging period for the orchestral world, in terms of venue closures during Covid and uncertainty over arts funding, we need to focus on rebuilding public confidence in concerts and investing in further growing tomorrow’s orchestral audience.... Our task as an orchestra is not to prescribe what people should listen to, rather we need to nurture a journey of discovery," he said in a statement.

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