Pianist Stephen Hough has called for classical concerts to be overhauled to attract younger audiences.
Performances should be shorter with no interval, he argues, while orchestras could drop their formal dress code.
“At some point in the early 20th Century we settled into a pattern: Concerts should start early evening and last roughly two hours with a liquid interval, either to drink a glass of wine or visit the ladies / gents.
“I think we should consider removing the interval and starting either earlier or later than 7:30pm – 60 to 80 minutes of music, then out.”
This is a complicated question. If it’s just about attracting younger audiences, then it means dumbing down the music. If it’s for children, that’s one thing, but I think that’s not what he means.
There is this constant worry about classic music not attracting younger audiences. Some people actually think it is because concert halls have mono sound, and young people don’t want that. (I don’t even know where to begin with this one. It’s not mono sound; there is no such thing as “mono” sound outside of an electronic reproduction…) Others think the problem is that you can’t clap, or that musicians wear penguin suits.
It all comes down to trying to convince people to like music that they don’t like, or haven’t been exposed to. There’s no magic bullet to get people to like a certain style of music, and I think it’s foolish to look to that solution.