The world is changing extraordinarily rapidly but the core repertoire for the engine of the classical music sector, the orchestra, is stuck in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There is a decline in audiences in the USA and some European countries, although big developments in China, Japan, South Korea, possibly in some parts of South America. In Australia there is a mixed picture but generally audiences have been sustained and probably the standards have never been better. Nevertheless, there is cause for concern about the interest of the younger generations as their world view changes, classical music has departed from many schools and on the popular level looks like music your grandparents might like.
Australian Musical Futures 2010: The Classical Summit
The Summit will be held all day on Monday July 12 at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
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ABOUT THE CLASSICAL SUMMIT ARRANGEMENTS
RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTIONS
BULLETIN BOARDS FOR DISCUSSION
The world is changing extraordinarily rapidly but the core repertoire for the engine of the classical music sector, the orchestra, is stuck in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There is a decline in audiences in the USA and some European countries, although big developments in China, Japan, South Korea, possibly in some parts of South America. In Australia there is a mixed picture but generallyaudiences have been sustained and probably the standards have never been better. Nevertheless, there is cause for concern about the interest of the younger generations as their world view changes, classical music has departed from many schools and on the popular level looks like music your grandparents might like. You could look at a SWOT analysis of the situation.
At the 2009 Assembly of the MCA, a classical music breakout group brought together a small group of people from across the sector. They said, as so often happens, how good it was to be able to discuss these issues, especially with people from beyond their own interest groups – chamber ensemble people talking to orchestras to radio broadcasters to youth and so on. They made a number of recommendations and endorsed enthusiastically the idea for the Classical Summit.
Given the disruption overseas, it would seem prudent to take stock of the situation in Australia, identify problems actual or incipient and look to the future. Australian Musical Futures will organise focus groups around the country, elicit perceptions and ideas, and later in the year organise a national meeting of interested parties to decide upon actions, hopefully to be taken collaboratively across the sector.
Some things to think about
The questions facing the summit are likely to be along these lines:
- What strategies could be used to build the classical music offering in schools?
- Could the strategic involvement of the (studio) music teachers’ associations assist?
- What are the most effective strategies by which professional music organisations such as orchestras can contribute to music education?
- What strategies will lead to emerging musicians knowing how to present themselves, build careers, reach their own audiences?
- What strategies would lead to a development of education in classical music-making at the community level? Do we have successful models here or overseas
- Are there ways that young musicians can build the audience in their own age group?
- What strategies would be most effective at the community level in building audiences?
- There are good role models overseas for conservatoires in building audiences, community participation (e.g Guildhall). What can Australian conservatoriums and university music departments do?
- What are effective audience-building strategies for implementation by professional music organisations such as orchestras, ensembles? Consider programming, venues, style of presentation,audience rituals…
- Are there other types of organisation that could be involved?
- Do the classical music radio stations reach new audiences? Many more people follow classical music than attend concerts. Is there an opportunity for eg different styles of presentation to reach younger audiences? A different repertoire? New stations? What is the potential for youth programmed and controlled broadcasting?
- What strategies could be applied to build classical music audiences on the internet?
- How can we bridge the gap between the heritage repertoire and contemporary repertoire in order to demonstrate to a substantial audience that classical music is music of our time? There are other ways to formulate this question. We can hear live concerts of a wide variety of new repertoire for small ensembles but to maintain a large audience it might be necessary to solve the problem for orchestras and perhaps opera companies. Is the problem a need for a new type of repertoire, or to bring a new (young) audience to existing repertoire?
- We need to identify or mount research to know public attitudes to classical music, address those that are negative, build on those that are positive
- We need to develop some messages concerning attitudes. Suggest
- a. Classical music is OUR music as much as any other country’s; we don’t worry that every other genre comes from somewhere else.
- b. And we are very good at it.
- c. Classical music is for everyone that wants to listen to it, not just an “elite”. (How can we ram that message home, demonstrate it?)
- d. You don’t have to have a music education to be entitled to listen to classical music. The more you listen, the more you will “get” it. Education is optional.
- Rock can survive in Australia without government support, classical music cannot. What strategies can be developed for the urgent task of persuading governments that classical music must be supported? MCA has assembled information to assist participants in the discussions. Please see the INFORMATION section, below.
As noted, the first discussion took place at the MCA 2009 Assembly and was chaired by MCA Deputy Chair, Robyn Holmes, Curator of Music at the National Library.
In 2010, the direction of the Summit has been discussed and set by an expert panel with these members.
- Colin Cornish, CEO, Australian Youth Orchestra
- Mary Jo Capps, CEO, Musica Viva Australia
- Tony Grybowski, Executive Director Arts Organisations, Australia Council, former Director, Major Performing Arts Board
- Matthew Hindson, composer, Artistic Director, Aurora Festival, and International Society for Contemporary Music World Music Days, Chair, Music Board of the Australia Council
- Rory Jeffes, CEO, Sydney Symphony
- Jehan Kanga, Australian Youth Music Council
- Richard Letts, ED, Music Council of Australia, Past President, International Music Council
- Roland Peelman, Artistic Director, The Song Company
This panel was Sydney-based for logistical and cost reasons.
Focus groups have been organised around Australia by these convenors in these cities and all will be completed by the last week of May. Their reports are available below.
- Perth –Marshall McGuire
- Adelaide –Sylvan Elhay
- Hobart –Kevin Purcell
- Melbourne–Nicole Canham
- Canberra –Robyn Holmes
- Sydney –Richard Letts
- Brisbane –Helen Lancaster
ABOUT THE CLASSICAL SUMMIT ARRANGEMENTS
Place and Date: As noted, the Summit will take place at the Sydney Conservatorium from 9.30am to 5.00pm on Monday July 12.
Attending: There is a limited number of people who can be accommodated. Also, there needs to be some balance between the various types of interests. So attendance is by invitation. Invitations are being sent to a list of people important to the sector, as identified to the Music Council. Obviously, this list is incomplete. You can express your interest in attending and receive a invitation.
If you have received and invitation: If you wish to accept and to register, just go to Registration, below.
If you have not yet received an invitation and would like one:If you have not yet received an invitation and would like to participate, please contact
. Please give your NAME, LOCATION, OCCUPATION and EMAIL address. We will reply to you to let you know whether a place is available. You can then proceed to register.
To Register and Pay: If you have received an invitation, whether directly from MCA or as a result of sending your expression of interest, please click here to register.
A conference fee will be charged to help cover the costs of the event. The fee includes lunch and morning and afternoon coffee breaks.
Conference fees: $135
Early bird discount for registrations by Monday June 7: subtract $20
Discount for paid-up members of the Music Council of Australia: subtract $25
To claim the member discount, you can find information about MCA membership ($49/year) here.
Reports from the preparatory focus groups
Summary of reports from the preparatory focus groups
Prepared by Richard Letts.Classical Recommendations.
Graham Strahle. Responses to the objectives listed in the summary.
Here is a list of papers from Australia, Europe and the USA. More will be added as they come to hand. Please send us your suggestions and links for additional resources.
Trends in Classical Music Internationally, with Special Reference to Orchestras, is a survey of sources including some in the list below, that shows trends in the amount of activity, attendances and similar variables. It was prepared by Lynn Gailey, Head of Research at the Music Council of Australia.
Music Council of Australia Knowledge Base SWOT analyses:
Music Council of Australia Knowledge Base: other relevant papers:
There are other papers dealing with relevant topics such as music education, festivals, venues. Look in the Creation and Support sections. There is also statistical information with analyses. The data are a little out of date but the analyses would in general hold.
Australian musical instrument sales and trends.
Thanks to Ian Harvey for this note. See Ian’s notes for Europe, China and USA below. These do not show trends but you could make per capita comparisons. Ian writes:
I guess the most significant trend here that I can point to is the growth of the orchestral string segment. Ten years ago our imports of orchestral strings were around 11,000 units. This has more than doubled over that time with the 2009 data showing imports of 24,206 units. This segment appears to have benefitted from more string teachers becoming available, the fact that these instruments can be started at a young age, more kids proportionally in private schools, significant interest in the product amongst Asian families. Compare this to the annual average growth of woodwind products over the same 10 year period at 2% per annum. Brass fares a little better with a 4% annualised rate of growth over the period 1998 to 2008.
Andrew Ford, Why Bother With Classical Music?, MCA Annual Address, 2003.
The piano market here has been quite strong for the past decade and growing. Back in 1998 volumes were around 10,400 units, in 2009 the number has increased to 15,956 units. Most of the growth is in digital pianos which have more than doubled their share of these numbers, though grand piano volumes have also doubled over that time. There is a clear correlation between the economy and piano sales. Good times such as we have had throughout the 2000’s mean strong piano sales. I expect to be reporting a dip in volumes when we finish the 2009 results just as we did in 2001, 1992, and so on.
Graham Strahle, Is Classical Music Dead?Music Forum, 12/4 (2006): 35-38.
JAPAN. There’s a little bit of information about classical music in Japan at this site. Unfortunately, the links to actual data are in, would you believe it, Japanese. This page does include some basic data about attendances in Tokyo – 4,500 concerts and 2.3million attendees. Another site tells us that there are 150 concert halls in Tokyo.
Examining Arts Participation in Japan by the Survey on Time Use and Leisure Activities. This site has deep data and classical music and music lessons are two of the variables. (.doc)
CHINA. Ian Harvey gives instrument sales figures. We need trend figures but they simply may not be available. These figures are for domestic sales and exclude exports, so they hint at domestic activity.Per capita, Australian sales are larger, but then we have a larger middle class. And also, we might expect western classical music to somewhat have the status of music genre as a second language.
- Piano 243,791
- Digital piano 274,200
- Wind Instruments 260,756
- Guitar 913,817
- Strings 298,654
- Percussion 102,689
Imports of instruments to China
- Piano (all types) 33,817
- Stringed Inst 6,611
- Wind 2,172
- Percussion 194,042
By comparison Australian piano sales total nearly 15,000 a year (including digital), brass and wind 27,000 units, Orchestral strings 24,000 unitsand guitars 242,000 (inc acoustic, electric and bass).
‘Discussions on visitors and non-visitors of classical and ethnic European music concerts.’ A study of Finnish audience behaviour and attitudes. Document 1 and Document 2 (both .doc)
Ian Harvey’s numbers on instrument sales in a few European countries. Note Australian string sales per capita are way higher than for the UK.
- UK – pianos sales 49,000 units, orchestral strings 79,000 units, acoustic guitars 589,000 (these are 2007 figures) unfortunately no brass or wind figures from the UK in recent times
- Norway – Brass and wind 14,000 units, orchestral strings 4,000 units, pianos (inc digital ) 3,500 units, acoustic guitars 39,000 units, total guitars 62,000 units (also 2007 figures)
- Italy - pianos total inc digital 26,000 units, Guitars total inc electric 205,000, brass and wind 103,000 units, orchestral strings 14,000 (2006 figures)
It’s not classical vs popular. The informal approach to music education is embedded in schools in Sweden, a country that has long advocated personalised learning and a sense of democracy in the classroom. However, a recent article by two Swedish academics warns that adopting the informal approach is no panacea to music education’s ills.
Two papers on Venezuela’s remarkable music education program:.
United States of America
Greg Sandow blog. Sandow is a New Yorker who is constantly blogging about the decline in the situation of classical music and what might be done about it.
American instrument sales (thanks Ian Harvey)
- Canada – Total guitars 445,000 units (251,000 acoustic), pianos (inc digital) 27,000 units, orchestral strings 56,000 units, brass and wind 47,000 units (2007 figures)
- US - guitars 3.07 million (acoustic 1.48 million) units, 203,000 pianos (inc digital), brass and wind 573,000 units, orchestral strings 426,000 units (2006 figures)
You might be able to get more information from NAMM. The League of American Orchestras published a demographic study at the end of 2009 that was a complement to the NEA 2008 study of public participation.
A relevant finding for Australia is that in America the audience for classical music is not renewing itself and the study predicts further decline by 2018 if steps are not taken to address the issue. The summit could interrogate the assumption that classical music is something one turns to as one gets older.
- Gifts of the Muse - Reframing the Debate about the Benefits of the Arts. A RAND report funded by the Wallace Foundation concludes that promotion of arts experiences at an early age is the key to later participation.
- Increasing Arts Demand Through Better Arts Learning. Another publication of the Wallace Foundation.
- Magic of Music Final Report: the Search for Shining Eyes. The Knight Foundation in the USA found that it could no longer respond to requests for emergency funding to save local orchestras. The study finds that the solution is in transformational change, rather than propping up business as usual. It also proposes that music making in childhood produces adult audiences but that attendance at symphony concerts does not.
- Another Knight Foundation report: Classical music consumer segmentation study in the USA
- Major University Presenters Value and Impact Study. The impacts of participation I live performing arts programs; new attitudinal segmentation models for performing arts ticket buyers and donors.
- The Economic Environment of American Symphony Orchestras, March 2008. Study commissioned by the Andrew Mellon Foundation. A large and impressive study. Among its findings: orchestra attendances in the primary affluent educated constituency are in a noticeable downward trend and that there is a diminishing returns paradigm in marketing expenditure. But across the 63 orchestras it looked at, it is difficult to determine trends because the variables are really large.
- Age of the audience in the USA.
- National Endowment for the Arts: Arts Participation 2008 shows persistent patterns of decline in participation for most art forms.
- New York Philharmonic rebranding exercise that turned around a serious decline.
- “If we could turn back the history of the human race and run it over again, I'm not sure that anything like the Western artistic tradition would happen twice. It seems like an aberration: a cultural form that serves no obvious function, does not appeal to most of the population, and is so expensive that it can never support itself. Yet this form of expression, which set a tiny handful of individual humans free to pursue their vision without regard to taste, understanding and practicality, has given us an astounding body of work… It's easy to assume that art has always been with us and always will be, but this is ultimately naïve. The classical repertoire cannot exist in a museum, without a continuing tradition… As Igor Stravinsky said to Robert Craft in their book of conversations, ‘The crux of a vital musical society is new music’”… (Have composers really had this freedom? If they did, has it been a good thing?) Feature article.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTIONS
BULLETIN BOARDS FOR DISCUSSION
A number of Bulletin Boards have been set up to facilitate discussion of the issues of the summit. You can joint in and contribute whether you're attending or not. Go to the bulletin boards, register and participate!