Happy New Year! Even if you’re not the type of person who makes New Year’s Resolutions, I’d like to offer a suggestion to consider.
As a classical music broadcaster and a musician, I am frequently faced with the question of how to get more people to listen to classical music. For decades, pundits have been raising alarms about the supposed “graying” of the audience, forecasting the demise of symphony orchestras and other performing groups, and lamenting the decrease of classical music on the broadcast airwaves. While these trends are worthy of our attention, I am not quite so cynical about what they mean for the future of classical music. There continues to be a steady stream of new, young performers and ensembles coming onto the scene and there are new and innovative ways to distribute and listen to their artistry. They produce their own performances, retain the rights to their work, perform in new unconventional venues, and recruit their peers to attend their concerts. It’s exciting and inspiring to witness the innovative spirit and entrepreneurship of talented, technologically savvy musicians!
Classical music audiences have always been a little “grayer” than the general public. Maybe it just takes wisdom, experience or a different stage of life to appreciate the art form. Maybe it’s just different for everyone, and takes time for some of us to “age into” embracing the genre. There’s also the obstacle that while some people are open to the idea, they are intimidated by real or imagined fears: how to choose something they will like, what to wear, when to clap. One thing is certain: people who are never exposed to classical music will never learn to love it.
So here is my suggestion for your 2018 resolution: make it your business to introduce someone to the music you love. Be a mentor. Play Sunday Baroque for your niece or grandchild, take your neighbor to a concert, share musical performances on your social media, and do anything else you can think of to make that love connection between the music and someone who hasn’t yet heard it. I have season tickets to a chamber music series that offers vouchers to subscribers to bring a friend for free to many of the season’s concerts. Maybe your favorite ensemble or concert series has something like this too? Find out, and bring someone.
You love music, I love music, we listen to music. Let’s resolve to spread the word and SHARE our love of music with someone new in 2018!