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Mapping The Journey Of Musical Engagement

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On behalf of BADSK and as part of a team, I took part in a \'mapping\' project exploring the question; how do people become members of a live classical audience? To bring the project to a successful …

On behalf of BADSK and as part of a team, I took part in a \'mapping\' project exploring the question; how do people become members of a live classical audience? To bring the project to a successful conclusion we employed classic ethnographic techniques such a face to face interviews, internet mediated interviews (Email, skype) and observation.
Through the analysis stage we employed the methods of affinity mapping and post-it-noting to find themes that came from the data. To finally pull all this information together, we produced a report and pod-cast detailing the processes and outcomes of the project.


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  • 1. Mapping the Journey of Musical Engagement: An Ethnographic Account of Opera and Chamber Music Audiences
  • 2. Executive Summary This report is the outcome of ethnographic research of the journeys of engagement of chamber music and opera audiences in the United Kingdom and the United States. This study was undertaken on behalf of the Bayerische Akademie der Schonen Kunst (BADSK) by researchers at the University of Dundee Design Ethnography Programme. The primary question the researchers set out to answer was: how do people become members of the live classical music audience? To holistically engage this question, the research team explored academic scholarship as well as popular writing on the subject area; conceptualized a strategic audience segmentation to study a robust audience sample; conducted participant observations at opera and chamber music performances, interviewed audiences by segment; and analyzed the interviews to arrive at actionable insights. The report first offers an introduction to the research with a look at methodology and segmentation approach, then six stories of people’s classical music engagement process as a representative selection of the twenty-three individuals interviewed in total. The profiles then lead into key actionable insights that are drawn from analysis of the gathered data. The insights are summarized in the table below: Insight • Musical domain knowledge leads to deeper and longer lasting bonds to music and live performance. • People are introduced to and bond with music and audience communities through people they know. • Audiences are divided between maintaining traditional music experiences and modernize them. • Free time to attend live performances is most constrained during parenting and working years. • Many 'grow into' an appreciation of niche genres with age and elder populations are rising in Western Europe. Finally, the report raises further questions for study in the ongoing effort to better understand the needs of current and future live classical music audiences. We hope the reader finds the report enlightening and worth sharing with relevant organizations that may benefit from it and the findings succinct and actionable. 2
  • 3. Table of Contents Executive Summary 2 Table of Contents 3 1. Introduction: Why Study the Journeys of Engagement with Classical Music? 4 2. Audience Profiles: Myriad Pathways, Common Treads 5 2.1 Anders 5 2.2 Katherine 6 2.3 Donald 8 2.4 Alexandra 10 2.5 Seonaid 11 2.6 Ellie 12 Actionable Insights: Emerging Patterns and Implications 13 Summary and Conclusion: The Future of Live Classical Music Audiences 16 References & Bibliography 18 Any questions, comments, or requests may be sent to the researchers at: mapping_the_journey@gmail.com Thank you, Ilya Perchikovsky, Mark Page, Leanne Butler 3
  • 4. Section 1. Introduction: Why Study Journeys of Engagement with Classical Music? The researchers set out to learn about people’s journeys in becoming members of chamber music and opera audiences, to appreciate the factors that facilitate and hinder the process. A deeper understanding of these dynamics would allow our client—BADSK promotes classical and contemporary arts in the Bavarian region as well as internationally via the Lied und Lyrik Festival— to better understand and meet the needs of current audiences while also anticipating those of future audiences. The questions that underpin this research and define BADSK’s areas of interest, as framed in the initial brief, can be summarize here as: • Where should we find and ‘hook’ our future audience? • Is creating “music godparents” for kids a good idea? • Should we focus on just kids or can we also reach older adults? • Is putting performers in touch with kids more directly, a good idea? • Should we find our future audience in their homes, or in schools, or elsewhere? To answer these questions, the researchers made a strategic decision to study opera and chamber music audiences in order to offer a perspective that would be directly transferable to the work of our client, namely, protecting the future of live niche classical music performance, and at the same time complimentary to the research angle of our colleagues exploring the analogous question through lieder audiences. The methods employed by the researchers to study these audiences and map the dynamic routes in becoming a part of them were secondary research to gain a historical and contextual understanding of the issues surrounding opera and chamber music listenership, and primary research—participant observation and personal interviews—to gain first-hand knowledge of real people’s experiences. The secondary research provided a preliminary landscape of the central debates, leverage points, and issues impacting the future of live classical music. This understanding led the researchers to segment the target audience into the following groups to be studies: • Amateur musicians • School-years audience • Professional musicians • Working-years audience • Music educators • Post working-years audience • Live event organizers • Potential audience • Music philanthropists 4
  • 5. Segmenting the study around the above groups, allowed the researchers to develop a set of themes and open-ended interview questions. Over a period of six weeks, twenty-three audience members were interviewed in person, over the telephone or via Skype. The raw interview data was then compiled, sorted and distilled into particular ‘tags’ or labels, and certain thematic patterns emerged which then led to the insights listed below (and will be detailed more fully in the Insights section to follow). The research found that: • Musical domain knowledge leads to deeper and longer lasting bonds to music, audience communities, and live performance. • Individuals are introduced to, and bond with live classical music through other people. • Audiences are divided about seeking out traditional music experiences versus modern ones. • Free time to attend live performances is most constrained during the parenting and/or professional working years. • Many individuals 'grow into' an appreciation of niche genres with age. Concurrently, elderly populations in the developed world are growing. Section 2. Audience Profiles: Myriad Pathways, Common Treads 2.1 Anders: Anders is 54 years old and an English professor at a top UK university. He is currently an volunteer organizer and season ticket holder with a local university chamber music society. From an early age, Anders had an interest in music. He began learning the piano at 13 years of age, and already had developed enough of a musical taste to recall it being too "simple" for his liking, and that he sought more of a challenge, in "real music" that was not "boring." Anders 5
  • 6. also started playing the clarinet in school, which provided a welcome challenge. He further expanded his knowledge of the musical landscape and recalled listening to BBC Radio3 through which he became even more deeply interested in a wide range of classical music styles. He noted that at school he primarily played classical solo piano music, but when he made the transition from school to university found himself in a "more traditional chamber formation." At university Anders' thirst for a wider exposure to classical music compelled him to attend "any chamber music performance that happened to be around." Later, Anders encountered the Lieder tradition through the works of Franz Schubert. It was also while Anders was at university that he became attracted to the dynamic nature of performing within the framework of a chamber ensemble saying that "playing with people became a major way of becoming interested" for me and that "I became opened up by it, different groupings are always there, you are aware they exist". Anders felt strongly about what he finds so appealing about chamber music. [Listening to a chamber music performance] requires a specific degree of attention. The way you listen is with a passive alertness. You have to be prepared to be awake, it is music that doesn't sweep you out of yourself. When Anders was a young man, his musical taste was wider and he would often "listen to any of it." However, he now finds the chamber music experience more physically appealing. He explained that he is more comfortable at chamber performances because with age he has become more "resistant to loud noises." Anders is of the opinion that, … you gradually get in, as the years go by you expand the works you are familiar with," and that "as people get older they allow themselves to become more open to chamber music. 2.2 Katherine: Katherine is thirty-six years old, and trained as an interior decorator. She and her partner have recently moved to Edinburgh from London. Katherine speaks of the disruption that moving has had on her daily routine and enjoyments in life. She speaks affectionately of opera, and the enjoyment of listening to it as she sews, does the washing and other chores around the home, but has not indulged in it for several months: "I haven’t listened to opera since I moved up. Why? I don’t have any cds with me, so there is that; with mum not here I don’t really have anyone to go with. Perhaps with the stresses of 6
  • 7. moving et cetera, I’ve not really been in the right place for opera. You have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy opera. You need to be reasonably happy to be able to deal with the emotion of it. Also I don’t have the flat how I want it. I like everything to be in place to be able to relax within my surroundings. The speakers need moving so that I might listen to it whilst sewing. You have to be able to relax to enjoy opera. Also I don’t like the thought of being overheard listening to opera. I get so emotional. You don’t really want to people to hear you sitting in floods of tears. In our old flat I listened to opera on compact discs, there was a garden, I would let open all the windows as I sat and listened without the fear of being overheard. Katherine’s mother was who first introduced her to opera. "I have been [to opera performances] with my entire family but it's really a special thing between me and my mum." Katherine identifies her mother as the instigator of her opera listening and attendance, and without whom she would not actively seek out. I just go along, I’m glad of going along though. That said, I’d hate to never go to opera again. I’ve asked [my partner] and he doesn’t want to go. You don’t want to go with someone that doesn’t want to be there. I don’t want to turn to the person beside me during the interval and say, ‘wasn’t that fantastic’ and they go ‘hmmm’ its not really the same. Katherine attended live opera at least once a year with her mother before she moved, when appealing productions were being staged at one of the local venues. "Last opera, was maybe a year ago, with my mum, we went to Covent Garden to see La Boheme. I’ve been to see it two or three times, it's beautiful, heart wrenching." Katherine attended her first opera in her early twenties but did not 'fall in love' with the genre until more recently. She points to life experience and the development of emotional intelligence as the reason for this. Madame Butterfly is the most memorable performance in Katherine’s memory. She became fond of a particular aria prior to going that she had heard her mother playing as a child. She recalled not appreciating it at that time but later heard a recording of it on compact disc as an adult and that "captured me and I just had to see it live. It was breathtaking." Katherine attends many other kinds of live performance as well. "I have been to the ballet many more times than the opera. My [grandmother] starting taking me as a little girl." She has been to a number of musicals but quickly asserts that she is, … not really keen on musicals. Not keen on them at all! Been to see Cats, took my mum to see Evita, again it’s the singing in English that I don’t really like. I love Italian opera. Do not enjoy German so much as its very harsh. And English I don’t enjoy at all. When they speak in a singing voice in the elongated operatic way of singing those words, well, it just sound 7
  • 8. cheesy. But in Italian it always sounds romantic. My mum and dad went to an opera in Verona a few years ago. I was very jealous. I’d love to go see an Italian opera in Italy. Katherine's mum is very particular about the signers which she goes to see. For example, the two of them went to see La Traviata in London specifically because of a singer her mother first heard on the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. "If mum likes a particular singer she will look them up straight away and find out what else they have sang on." Katherine has listened to a range of operas on compact disc and attended live performances with her mother but tells me she has never been to see a modern interpretation. Although initially skeptical, Katherine said she is open to the idea. "But really you go to see something set in the past, not something common place, its about the dramatic set, beautiful costumes. Something modern day, well, that’s like watching people in jeans on Eastenders." 2.3 Donald: Donald is sixty-six years old and is a retired classic literature professor from one of the oldest and most highly respected universities in the United Kingdom. He currently holds the position of treasurer at a chamber music society that organizes and hosts monthly performances at a local conservatory. When Donald was a boy in Birmingham, his working class family wasn't able to afford frequent attendance of live music performances, however his father "had a collection of orchestral music" which Donald would listen to often. For Donald chamber music, per se, was "never high above the horizon" and when he was introduced to opera as a boy, it was only through a school trip to a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan work. Not long after, Donald began to learn the piano, although he confessed "I never learned the scales." He recalled that his family "never went out" for music either. During his school years he did not have many experiences with live musical performance, beyond his own playing the piano. There was however a notable exception to this; Donald vividly recalls his attending the Proms in London with his father. He painted a picture of himself as a young boy surrounded by the sights and sounds of an orchestral symphony in full swing; a big, full sound that filled the Royal Albert Hall and made a lasting impression on him. Lacking the financial resources and a social network to support his attending live performances in Birmingham, Donald nevertheless continued to expand his knowledge of the musical landscape through reading widely on the historical and literary context of the piano 8
  • 9. and orchestral music he loved most as a youth. It was only after moving away from home to attend university at Oxford that Donald developed a connection with live classical performance. It was there that Donald had a burst of musical engagement of various kinds; he played the piano with new friends, attended student recitals and concerts, gained further musical knowledge and listened to classical music on his first transistor radio, which was made possible thanks to his first student stipend. It was at university that he was introduced to chamber and choral music as well as Lieder. He further deepened his appreciation for Lieder while studying briefly in Germany as a postgraduate. He mentioned "The Penguin Book of Lieder" as being an important literary element in the process of his growing love for the lied tradition. It was also at Oxford when he attended a performance of Brahms works that featured the renowned Barry Tuckwell OBE, on the natural horn. The significance of the natural horn Donald explained was that the tone and range of the horn is controlled solely by the performers’ ability to modulate his breathing and pursing of his lips and as such, Donald referred to Tuckwell’s performance as "first rate." After leaving the university setting, Donald's musical journey took on a slower pace. Although he mentioned attending operas and studying Montiverdi's interpretation of Nero in L'incoronazione di Poppea for scholarly research, his engagement with live musical performance slowed dramatically "due to the nature of having children." However, the arrival of children posed an opportunity as well. With Donald's encouragement his daughter began studying the viola and his son took on the bassoon. The selection of these instruments was made with deliberate pragmatism; Donald believed these were instruments "that would be in demand." Donald fondly recalled when the children would play their instruments at home with dad accompanying on the piano. Once the children left for university where they kept up their playing by joining various musical societies, Donald and his wife underwent a small renaissance of musical activity culminating in the purchase of season tickets to a local "music club" which promoted chamber, contemporary and classic performances. It was also during this time that his engagement in learning about music saw a dramatic up tick as well. He delved more deeply into the literary roots of his favorite operas and stated emphatically "I like to learn about music and will go on learning." Eventually Donald took over as treasurer of the aforementioned music club, where he would like to introduce more chamber ensembles that play contemporary repertoires but is unsure of how his mostly older and traditional audience would respond. In the spirit of a 9
  • 10. lifetime learner Donald was happy to share with us that "in the past year, I have been learning a great deal about the works of Mendelssohn, as it is the year of Mendelssohn." 2.4 Alexandra: Alexandra is sixty-eight years old and teaches piano to children and adults in the United States. However she was born and grew up in the musically and artistically robust post-war Moscow arts scene. She recalled that her father owned a "not great quality violin that he was given by his father. He taught himself to play and I was fascinated." She knew then that she wanted to take up the instrument herself, as well. At 6 years of age Alexandra's father enrolled her in a music school and a year later she took an examination in front of a panel of teachers to determine in which course she could enroll—violin or piano. The instructors said that structure of my hand was better applied for playing piano and not the violin. And that’s how my dad enrolled me in a piano class and not the violin class that he really wanted for me, but it didn’t happen. Alexandra studied "piano, music theory, choir, and music appreciation" at the school four times a week where attending fellow students' recitals and giving her own became routine. Throughout her childhood, Alexandra's recalled that her father took her to the Moscow conservatory, the Bolshoi Theater and the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. "My sister and I were exposed to very high quality music from a young age. It was ballet, opera, symphony, chamber music." She continued her musical education to eventually complete a postgraduate course in music pedagogy and began teaching at a primary school until nearly the collapse of the Soviet Union. Attending live performances played an especially critical role in Alexandra’s life in the years leading up to her leaving the Soviet Union. There was a time in our family life when we were refused to leave Russia by the KGB. We were considered unloyal [sic] citizens and lost our jobs, and didn’t have any future in the country. Then music played a more important role in my life than before, because in music I could forget our troubles and music gave me hope for the future. And I had more time because I was without job and it was more affordable to go at that time. When we were refusniks [my husband] and I attended a lot of concerts. One time we had to bribe people from the box office to get tickets to see a performance of La Scala and another time we were very lucky to get tickets to see Van Cliburn win the first International Tchaikovsky Competition. After immigrating to the United States Alexandra’s attendance of live performances slowed dramatically. She explained that: 10
  • 11. … we simply couldn’t afford it, so we went less. We came without money; we didn’t have any disposable income for tickets. But what I did was join a ladies choir. It gave me a lifeline to music, helped me still be in touch with the music world. I don’t have a professional voice, but I was accepted to this choir for a couple of years until I could purchase a piano and attend more concerts. Alexandra enjoys listening to and learning about new works unfamiliar to her. After attending a recent performance of works by Norman Frank Demuth, which she had not yet heard, Alexandra recounted "when I came home I looked him up and called a friend of mine who knew his work and recommended another piece by him." In the past year she, her husband, and three couples started an opera dinner club: We have dinner and then we watch some opera performance. If it’s an Italian opera, we make Italian dinner, Russian for Russian opera, French for French opera… Then we go watch the DVD in and talk about who was good and who was awful after the [performance] is over. When asked about the role music plays in how she forms friendships, Alexandra emphatically stated the following: Music plays a very big role in how I develop friendships. You feel like you are collaborators, on the same page with these people. Your conversation can be on a completely different level on different subjects. You share something special with people who share a love for classical music, but not just music, a lot of cultural things. After performances, very often we discuss the quality of performances, what impressed us the most, it’s nice. We talk about it for weeks after sometimes. 2.5 Seonaid: Seonaid is nineteen years old and is a first year undergraduate medical student in the United Kingdom. Seonaid grew up in Ireland and was strongly influenced as a child by her father who is an auto mechanic by profession but played with bluegrass and folk music groups in her youth as well. Despite her father's love of folk music genres, he encouraged Seonaid to study classical music because "he respects the musicianship" of classical music training. Seonaid started viola lessons in the 4th grade and "fell in love with chamber music" in secondary school through playing it. She attended a chamber music summer camp in the United States for several years, which leveraged the inherent collaborative nature of chamber music performance to promote 11
  • 12. peace. Seonaid explained that the camp facilitated student musicians from conflict zones such as Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Palestinian Territories and Israel to play together. Seonaid emphatically stressed that "performing chamber music is all about teamwork" and that it is more akin to a participatory democracy, while an orchestra operates more like a dictatorship. The egalitarian nature of performing in a chamber ensemble was a resonant element of her deep affinity for the genre. The classical music community in her hometown was very close knit. She recalled an instance where a local chamber music organizer sent an urgent phone text message asking his entire musical network to immediately come to a near-empty hall where a world-class ensemble was about to perform. Seonaid continued, “in a half-hour the hall was packed.” She longed for that sense of community and familiarity among chamber music listeners, which was almost entirely absent in the UK university town where she resettled. She finds it hard to access the chamber music community in her new home because there is no music program at the university she attends and "all the musicians are studying in other courses." She is disappointed by the local music society as it "doesn’t make much of an effort" to spread information and support the events of other classical music organizations. Redistributing other groups' event flyers and sharing emails was commonplace in Seonaid's hometown. 2.6 Ellie: Ellie is a twenty four year old graphic design student in the United Kingdom. She is a self-described potential classical music listener. Ellie has had limited exposure to classical music but has expressed a tentative interest in the idea of attending live performances. When asked about attending a chamber music performance, Ellie mentioned that she would not go on her own, and would only consider going if a friend came along. She said that attending a live classical performance in a typical concert hall would place her "just too far out of my comfort zone." However, when a church hall was suggested Ellie sprang on the idea, saying that she could more easily see herself going to the familiar environment of a church space. Ellie explained that she becomes uncomfortable with not knowing the etiquette involved in participating as an audience member at classical performances, namely, when to clap and what to wear. In addition Ellie mentioned that classical music event listings are not typically found in the places where she finds information about the live events which she does attend. 12
  • 13. Actionable Insights: Emerging Patterns and Implications 1. The More You Know, The More You Grow Musical domain knowledge leads to deeper and longer lasting bonds to music, audience communities, and live performance. The stories described above point to people continuously building their musical knowledge base along their paths to deeper engagement with live classical performance. This pattern is manifest in many ways. Some examples from the interviews of growing domain knowledge include: almost everyone described above learning to play musical instruments; Donald reading about the historical context of a piece of music or personal background of composers; Anders and Donald listening to classical music on the radio; Alexandra attending live performances; and Alexandra learning about works she had not heard before. As simple as it may seem, this ever-growing knowledge base of classical music is a basic yet critical component of a deepening connection to live opera and chamber music. We recommend that BADSK capitalize on opportunities that expand the musical knowledge of emerging and established audiences. Thus, it follows that the initiative considered by BADSK to put performers in closer contact with children is a sound choice. This kind of interaction would not only expand children’s awareness of live classical music, but would do so through a personal connection to a performer—which leads us to the next insight. 2. People (Still) Make the World Go Round Individuals are introduced to, and bond with live classical music through other people. Our research has yielded two distinct modes of how individuals introduce and/or facilitate deeper connections to classical music for other individuals. First is the peer-to-peer modality, which includes the youth-to-youth and elder-to-elder dynamics. In other words, the stories of people we spoke with reveal patterns of deeper engagement with the world of music via peers of similar age. For example, Seonaid's emerging love for chamber music was heightened through her attending a chamber music summer camp with students her age. Anders engaged on this level while attending university by playing in a chamber ensemble with fellow students. Donald's story reveals that moving away from home to a university environment, allowed him to connect to a network of curious and like-minded music lovers/performers. Finally, Alexandra's recounting of her starting an opera dinner club with 13
  • 14. fellow opera enthusiast friends highlights the ability of older people to influence and support each other's musical tastes. We have also identified elder-to-youth as a second modality within this framework. This can be expressed as an older person sharing overt and tacit knowledge with a younger person. This pattern is demonstrated by such varied interactions as parents playing live or recorded music, encouraging musical training, or taking their children to live performances. Donald's father, for example, took him to memorable performances and shared his ample record collection with his son. Katherine’s mother was by far the most important figure in bringing Katherine to a deeper engagement with opera. Alexandra's father played the violin for her and encouraged her to study the instrument. He was passing along a family musical tradition which Alexandra continues to share with her grandchildren as well as her music students. Seonaid was shepherded into the world of live classical performance by her auto mechanic father who despite playing bluegrass and folk music admired the musicianship of classical works and encouraged his daughter to pursue the classical viola tradition. Collectively, the peer-to-peer and elder-to-youth modes illustrate the particular patterns within the larger observed trend of social networks being a vehicle for initial contact with and strengthening of bonds to live classical music. The musical godparents initiative that BADSK is currently implementing, is a good example of leveraging social networks to broaden young audiences’ knowledge and for older audiences to share their love of Lieder with students. In other words, the musical godparents initiative incorporates both the first and second insight presented. When these social network modalities were missing, audience member’s connection to and more importantly, attendance of live classical music events fall off sharply. Seonaid’s experience after moving away from her hometown in Ireland to attend university is a good example of this pattern. She found herself cut off from her established chamber music community, and unable to quickly integrate into the more insular local community her new city of residence. Naturally, Seonaid found it difficult to keep up her live classical music attendance, often hearing about performances only after they have taken place. Alexandra’s story of decreased attendance after emigrating from the Soviet Union highlights the close relationship between social networks and live attendance. This observation then suggests that focusing efforts on integrating new arrivals, that are already classical music audiences, into existing local music communities could be an opportunity to further grow a regional audience base. 14
  • 15. 3. Birds of a Feather Will (Not Always) Flock Together Audiences are divided about seeking out traditional music experiences versus modern ones. Another poignant trend we observed was the wide range of feelings among devoted audiences about maintaining traditional repertoires (content) and holding performances in conventional performance spaces (context). Some of those interviewed expressed their strong preferences for works from a particular era of classical music and dismissed contemporary works. The diametrically opposite group were explicitly seeking out modern repertoires and also yearning for updated performance settings. While others were not moved strongly in either direction, expressing lukewarm interest in modernizing the content and context of live performances. For example, Donald expressed interest in introducing more contemporary ensembles to the music club roster, but believed that the mainly older season ticket holding audience would not be receptive. Katherine was also adamant in her distaste for modernized opera productions. Another interviewee, whose story is not detailed above, raved about attending Mercury Soul, a contemporary chamber performance event in San Francisco. The event combined a sinfonietta, an award winning, classically trained composer-cum-electronic DJ, and lighting and art installations in a large, casual open-format venue with record turnout. The strong feelings on both ends of the traditional versus modern continuum signal the need for distinctive musical programming catering to particular the needs of these two groups. 4. Where Does the Time Go? Free time to attend live performances is most constrained during the parenting and/or professional working years. Members of the classical music audience who are raising children while working face the greatest pressure on their free time and we observed a dip in their attendance of live events until they retired or their children moved out of the family home. Donald, who attended live classical performances throughout his university student life, found that he could no longer find the time to attend once he had children. That is not to say working parents are disengaged from classical music completely. In Donald’s case, he made sure his children learned classical music instruments and performed at home along with them. Donald’s attendance and general engagement with live classical music picked back up after his children grew and he retired. 15
  • 16. Understanding and capitalizing on the time constrained needs of working professionals/parents could yield more opportunities to maintain a modicum of engagement with a dormant segment of the audience. For example, we suggest exploring the possibility of events that cater to the educational needs of children, and the musical and time constrained needs of parents by offering youth appropriate music workshops or performances concurrent to performances attended by the parents. 5. Do You See the Silver Sea? Many individuals 'grow into' an appreciation of niche genres with age. Concurrently, elderly populations in the developed world are growing. We have learned from our research that consistent chamber music listeners develop their taste in particular for chamber music over time. Several interviewees expressed that chamber music with its subtler sound and intimate physical space appealed to them more in their mature years. They found grand symphonic pieces with thumping timpani, crashing cymbals and performed in majestic music halls to be less pleasant. That is not to say that young people are incapable of appreciating chamber music—Seonaid, one of the most devoted chamber music listeners we interviewed is 19 years old—but simply that the process of ageing predisposes some mature listeners to the more restrained chamber music experience. We also know that the world population is growing older. These elderly are not only unprecedented in number but are also living longer, healthier and more active lives than ever before. According to the latest United Nations biennial populations forecasts, 11 percent of the world’s population of 6.9 billion is over 60 years old. By 2050, 23 percent of the developed world will be over the age of sixty. Therefore, if some classical music listeners “grow into” a greater appreciation for chamber music and with elderly population on the rise, we can then anticipate that chamber music audiences in particular should see some of that increase as well. Conclusion: The Future of Live Classical Music Audiences The insights derived from the research as detailed above, lead the ethnographic researchers to believe that instead of facing a slow and imminent demise, as some classical music pundits have forecast, the live classical music space will survive and may even see an 16
  • 17. increase in audience numbers due to the changing elderly demographic factors. The insights also point to several opportunities for live classical music and arts organizations to address the unmet needs of various segments of their audience, be they busy working parents or avant- garde seekers of live classical experiences. The insights also reinforce the simple but vitally important idea that access to musical knowledge and musically inclined social networks through which knowledge can be passed along is at the heart of the dynamic that replenishes live classical music audiences. 17
  • 18. References and Selected Bibliography: Beck, Barbara. “A Slow Burning fuse: A Special Report on Aging Populations.” The Economist, June 27, 2009. Benzecry, Claudio. “Becoming a Fan: On the Seductions of Opera.” Qualitative Sociology 32, no. 2 (June 1, 2009): 131-151. Froemke, Susan. “GP at the Met: The Audition: Preview This Behind-the-scenes Documentary | Great Performances | PBS.” Great Perfornaces at the Met: The Audition, January 20, 2010. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/episodes/gp-at-the-met- the-audition/preview-this-behind-the-scenes-documentary/913/. Godwin, Jocelyn. “Opera and the Amorous Initiation.” Temenos, London 12 (1991): 129-140. “Magic of Music - Knight Foundation.” http://www.knightfoundation.org/research_publications/music/magic_of_music.dot. Pitts, Stephanie E. “What Makes an Audience? Investigating the Roles and Experiences of Listeners at a Chamber Music Festival.” Music and Letters 86, no. 2 (May 1, 2005): 257-269. Pitts, Stephanie E., and Christopher P. Spencer. “Loyalty and Longevity in Audience Listening: Investigating Experiences of Attendance at a Chamber Music Festival.” Music and Letters 89, no. 2 (May 1, 2008): 227-238. Plowman, Tim, David Prendergast, and Simon Roberts. “From People to Prototypes and Products: Ethnographic Liquidity and the Intel Global Aging Experience Study.” Intel Technology Journal Volume 13, no. 3 (2009): 20-39. Ross, Alex. “Close Listening.” The New Yorker, February 8, 2010. Sandow, Greg. “The Classical Music Audience, for Symphony magazine.” Greg Sandow -- The Classical Music Audience, for Symphony magazine. http://www.gregsandow.com/audience.htm. Trojan, Guthrie. “The Crunch: Classical Music Unplugged,” January 25, 2006. http://guthrytrojan.blogspot.com/2006/01/classical-music-unplugged.html 18