Aging of the Orchestra Audience is “A Function of Demographic Evolution”

The Hobbit movie, in 3 weeks, has surpassed the international take of The Hunger Games during its whole 29 week run.  That's Staying Power!
The Hobbit (1937) movie (2012), in 3 weeks, has surpassed the international take of The Hunger Games (2008) movie (2012) during its whole 29 week run. That’s Staying Power!

“In other words, the problem [of aging audiences]—if it even is a problem—would seem to be more a function of demographic evolution than a lack of cultural wherewithal on the part of classical music specifically.”

MATTHEW GUERRIERI

The graying of classical music audiences seems to be one of the talking points for those who claim that classical music is on the decline.  Much of this has become an issue because of the coverage of the latest NEA Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA) from 2008 and the subsequent analysis of the trend of a rising median age of [all] audiences–and in some cases, the rise is far faster than the rise of the median of the population as a whole.  As I mentioned in my first post in this series of blogs about the Aging issue, “the median age of classical music audience is proportionally the same relative to the median age of the US since the Baumol and Bowen Study,” and Matthew Guerrieri has noted that the rising median age tracks almost exactly with the trendlines for the rising median age of other events such as first marriage age (for both men and women) as well as the rising life expectancy as birth.

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on Klingon weddings and playing the Sci-Fi/Fantasy circuit

Jon Silpayamanant as a Klingon performing before a production of The Pirates of Penzance (in Outer Space) in New Albany, Indiana.

So, as I mentioned in the previous post, there is an embarrassment of riches as far as performing options are concerned, if you’re willing to think outside the box.  The past few years I’ve been playing the Sci-Fi/Fantasy circuit.  I hesitate to call it the “Sci-Fi/Fantasy Convention circuit” if only because some of the best paying gigs I’ve gotten recently happen to be at organizations outside of the Convention circuit proper.

And some of that has started to creep into the so-called ‘high arts’ realm with organizations such as Symphony Orchestras playing themed shows dedicated to particular Sci-Fi or Fantasy franchises (e.g. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars) as part of their pops seasons.

On the whole, however, there’s always been music at conventions–even if it only consisted of filk music.  Part of the Klingon schtick is as much act as play and the idea came to me as a whim after il Troubadore started playing Sci-Fi conventions at the request of some bellydancers.  We decided we needed our own act and schtick, thus was born the il Troubadore Klingon Music Project.

Ok, so I talk about the short series of events from bellydancer request to Sci-Fi convention to developing a full blown Klingon Band personae as if it’s an everyday thing.  But seriously, for me, it is.

That’s the specific issue at hand here.  Over the years I’ve heard all manner of musicians grouse about the lousy economy and the lack of work.  And here, I’m talking primarily about those musicians who do not hold full time or professional positions as musicians–this includes freelancers, but also just your normal everyday band musician.  I know I’ve brought up this issue plenty of times in the past, but don’t want to flood this post with a ton of links.

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