Last night I went to hear the Czech National Orchestra playing at the Royal Gall in Harrogate. A great programme of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, and Dvorák’s Symphony No 7.
The Royal Hall was magnificently refurbished a couple of years ago, and is a great concert venue apart from
the usual hassle of parking in a tourist-attractive town during an international festival on a warm summer evening.
On the bright side, the warm sunny weather meant I could take my high heels off and stride along barefoot to make up for the lost time driving in circles looking for a space. I enjoy a chance to walk through towns unencumbered by footwear. I read somewhere recently that it’s very good for human feet, and so I smile confidently back at the strangers who look at me a tad oddly.
So the concert was great but yet again I was struck by the absence of youngsters. We had our 12 year old with us, and as far as I could see, she was the only child there. The vast majority of the audience were however not just grey, but white-haired. As they doddered around before, during the interval, and afterwards, I thought it was lovely they were able to all get out and about still, but where were all the under 80s?
I know, I know. I’ve blogged about this before, but I really am concerned by the demographic profile of classical concert goers. Is it just a provincial thing? Is it the same in London? What about overseas? I went to a fabulous recital by the violinist Anne Sophie Mutter last summer in Baden Baden in Germany, and it didn’t have quite the octogenarian ambiance of Harrogate, but nor was it exactly overflowing with youth.
I do wonder what will happen to these concerts over the next couple of decades, and whether live classical performances are increasingly irrelevant in contemporary society.