Researchers find non-traditional programming is attracting newcomers to performances.
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
The proportion of people interested in attending orchestral concerts is at its highest level for five years, research commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has found.
An online survey of more than 2,000 adults found that that 84% of people would like to experience an orchestral concert, up from 79% in 2018.
Researchers found that concerts with less conventional programming have driven the rise in popularity. The appeal of performances featuring hits from the musicals was up to 34% from 28% in 2022, while 31% of participants were attracted to shows that combined orchestral and pop music, an increase of six percentage points from last year.
There was also a marked rise in the appeal of child-friendly family concerts, which rose from 19% to 26%, in contrast to traditional repertoire, which held firm for the third consecutive year at 24%.
The research, which has tracked public engagement with orchestral music for the last five years, showed that the lure of more popular concerts this year is linked to a more general broadening of the genre’s audience. Nationally, newcomers to orchestral music outnumbered the established audience by 54% to 37%.
RPO said the survey findings chime with its own data - with ticket sales for its own concerts in 2022/23 up an average of 24% per concert compared to the pre-Covid era.
James Williams, Managing Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, said the orchestral world has been through “a hugely challenging period".
"Our latest data suggests the audience for live orchestral performance has grown over the last five years, which is most welcome news," he said.
“Ticket sales for RPO concerts across the 2022/23 season exceeded pre-pandemic levels, and sales for the 2023/24 season are off to a terrific start.”
“A noteworthy finding from our latest research was that between 10-20% of all respondents said they would look to experience traditional repertoire as part of a broader concert mix. Our task as an orchestra is not to prescribe what people should listen to. Rather, we need to nurture a journey of discovery.”