Last week the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that attendance is down at concerts of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the big question is why?
The orchestra has a spiffy, still-new concert hall, so that’s not the problem.
The orchestra has a hot new conductor who, according to the Inquirer, is “popular” – whatever that means in this context – so that’s not the problem.
The orchestra’s group of musicians is, according to most accounts, as good a group as ever and still one of the best in the country, so that’s not the problem.
The economy’s better, so people can afford tickets again, so that’s not the problem.
The orchestra has a pretty aggressive marketing campaign, so that’s not the problem.
Could it be that…
PEOPLE NO LONGER WANT TO SIT PASSIVELY IN A CONCERT HALL AND HAVE CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYED AT THEM?
Either because they don’t like classical music or because they’d rather listen to recorded music or streaming classical music?
Seriously, although he’s no expert, The Curmudgeon enjoys classical music – thank you, Mrs. Solomon, Miss MacDonald (also known as “Peaches” for reasons only Lincoln High alums will understand), and Mr. Feinberg – and listens to it at least once a week, if not more often. Even so, he’s never given any meaningful thought to the possibility of attending an orchestra performance. In fact, he can only think of two things that might get him to an orchestra concert: a hot date and/or free tickets.
Maybe classical music is destined to fade away, or at least become even more obscure and unnoticed than it is today.
Or maybe orchestras as we know them today will more or less disappear and playing classical music will become the province of skilled amateurs who play for loving of playing and not as a professional pursuit.