Research from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (February 2020) suggests that 83% of people under 25 are listening to and engaging with classical music, in contrast to common stereotypes. In addition, Classic FM reported an increase of 59,000 listeners aged between 10 and 24 in 2019. This demonstrates that listening to orchestral sounds is for everyone, and has broader popularity than you may think!
This is wonderful news for classical music lovers like us, as we can be safe in the knowledge that the legacies of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky will continue even after we’ve put down our instruments. The way younger people are discovering this music is different to previous generations too, with many being exposed to it through video games, television and film – the same sort of music that we play here at The People’s Orchestra. Additionally, a third of adults are also listening to classical music on the radio.
Why, then, are younger people taking such a liking to classical music? In particular, research has found young people use symphonic sounds to help them focus and boost their energy and motivation. 45% of young people surveyed also said they see classical music as an escape from the pressures of modern life. In March 2019, Scala Radio was launched, fronted by former Radio 2 DJ Simon Mayo, with a leading belief that classical music can connect with younger audiences. Over 18 months on, they are reaching 310,000 listeners a week, with these figures increasing consistently since they launched. Scala, Classic FM and BBC Radio 3 (all classical music radio stations) now have a combined audience of 8 million, which goes to show its broad appeal.
Abi, one of TPO’s volunteers, who also plays viola, says: “My mum is a music teacher and she firmly believes being able to play an instrument is a really valuable skill for me to learn, but I
didn’t understand why until I joined a local orchestra. There is such community and fun to be found in classical music, and I love performing in live concerts and going to watch them. Classical music can be inexplicably moving or exciting or soothing, and I enjoy listening to it when I am revising or feeling stressed about something.”
She is not alone. Ross, a student at Aston University, says: “I enjoy classical music because unlike most pop and similar genres, orchestral music is often purely instrumental. You can really enjoy the ideas and motifs which are repeated and manipulated through a piece. You aren’t distracted from the music by cleverly worded lyrics but instead you have an experience where some ideas are formed and taken on a more subtle journey. This is a form of musical expression which isn’t really found in sung music.”
The younger generation are the lifeblood of the music industry, and our mission is for live classical music to be easily accessible for as many people as possible. Figures suggest just 2% of classical concert-goers are under 25 – and if young people see friends and other young people like them performing music, they will be more likely to get involved themselves – whether that’s picking up an instrument, or just listening to orchestral music. The People’s Orchestra are currently on the lookout for new players to join us.
If you or someone you know may be interested in getting involved with a group of musicians who prove that playing film and classical music is fun and worthwhile, you can find out more here!