The entirety of Western culture hates old people. And classical music thinks it’s being revolutionary by trying to go along with this. Just what we need — one more cultural entertainment arena that disdains anything and anyone with grey hair and acts like you might as well crawl into the grave when you’re 40.
I have to say it — I wonder how much of this total detestation of the older audience isn’t an expression of the insecure midlife crises of the music professors in today’s colleges who are desperate to appear “with-it” to their teenaged and 20-something undergraduate students.
If they really wanted to attract the new generation, they’d take a page from the anthropologists and attract mothers (says this single, happily childfree curmudgeon). When you get something into a culture via the mothers, it percolates down to the kids. Pique mommy’s interest, and the family will follow.
I’m not talking about a few footnotes for the ladies in the marketing plan, either. I’m talking about deliberately and primarily targeting women of childbearing age as a permanent, dominant policy. None of this doing what they want anyway, and then pretending it’s a mother-oriented marketing plan by mentioning it to the Board chair’s half-his-age trophy wife. Is there a romance novelist convention in town? Offer discounted tickets to the ballet or opera, especially if the opera is something schmaltzy like “Romeo et Juliette” or “Giulio Cesare in Egitto.” No? How about a scrapbooking convention? A quilting convention? A bridal convention?
Find anyplace where young mothers hang out to socialize and target the living daylights out of them. Cynically, one could feature pictures of the nicer-looking principles in the advertisements. Nothing tacky, just a demonstration that there are people who look like this and this hanging around up there on stage while you’re hearing Brahms.
But mothers are as “cool” and “hip” and “edgy” a target audience as icky geezers, so here we stand. I don’t anticipate this will sell to any orchestra board or consulting firm anxious to appear “hip” and “edgy,” despite what anthropologists and primate ethologists have already known for decades: that if you get something into a culture via the mothers, it’s there for good.