Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Gray Listeners

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Gray Listeners

Article excerpt

THE SOURCE: "The Ageless Audience" by Diane Haithman, in Latimes.com, Oct. 5, 2008.

AUDIENCES FOR CLASSICAL music aren't getting gray, observes Diane Haithman, a writer for The Los Angeles Times. They always were gray.

Actually, they're somewhat older than they used to be, but not by as much as first appears. The median age of the typical classical music patron in 2002 was 49, compared with 40 in 1982. But the median age of the general population increased at the same time, from 40 to 45. So the run-of-the-mill concertgoer grew nine years older between 1982 and 2002--but only four years older than the median American.

The same sort of arithmetic works for patrons of the theater, ballet, and jazz. It is too early to write the obituary for live performing arts, Haithman says. Symphony concert attendance is up. Journalists who lament the aging of concert audiences may be forming their opinions by looking around from the most expensive seats--the ones the young concertgoers can't afford. Up in the nosebleed section, wrinkles may be scarce.

Classical concert tickets simply price out many young people. Tickets are like wine. Buyers start out with Two Buck Chuck, move on to a Yellow Tail, and eventually feel flush enough to indulge in a fine Burgundy. …

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