More than three in four adults (76%) say they would be more likely to attend an orchestral concert if orchestras took steps to modernise the concert experience, according to new research.
Shorter concerts (27%), more matinee performances (24%), conductors speaking to the audience (20%) and being encouraged to keep phones on during a performance (11%) – these were just some of the things people would like to see at orchestral concerts, according to a new study commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Following the resounding success of the BBC Proms – which this year spread its geographical reach further than before, with an estimated 350,000 people attending a performance - the new RPO data reveals that the number of people that say they would like to experience an orchestral concert has hit a five-year peak. With clear signs that the orchestral audience is diversifying to new and younger audiences, the RPO asked a representative sample of 2,071 adults which innovations would make them more likely to attend an orchestral concert. The findings revealed that people’s responses varied according to where they were on their own journey of discovery with the genre.
- Overall, 91% of longstanding orchestral music enthusiasts would most like to see modernising steps taken, and their top suggestions centred around making the orchestra more open and accessible. This group was most likely to want to see more daytime or matinee concerts (34%), meet and greets with members or the orchestra or soloists (27%) and conductors talking to the audience before a performance (27%).
- Music students, a younger generation of orchestral advocates, cared the most about people feeling free to react to concerts in a modern way. Music students were most likely to want to see audiences being encouraged to react on social media during a concert (28%). This group also wanted audiences to feel free to take photographs or film clips of a concert with their phones (21%) - and being encouraged to applaud between movements, or whenever they wanted to (19%).
- For those people that had started a journey of discovery with the orchestral world, advance digital programmes topped their wish list. This group was most likely to rate the importance of having access to programme information before the concert, so they could read up and understand the music a little better (37%).
- People completely new to the genre, or considering a first concert, were those most likely to want to see a relaxed or casual dress code (37%) and shorter concerts of up to an hour (31%).
Despite the raft of modernising measures people would like to see, some long-standing traditions remained popular. Nationally, only 6% of respondents mentioned the formal wear of orchestral players as something they would look to change.
Huw Davies, Deputy Managing Director at The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra commented: “As we embark on another exciting season of concerts, we wanted to take a moment to ask audiences about the steps that could be taken to make a concert experience more attractive. From the results there was no black and white response, rather people’s responses reflected where they were on their orchestral journey. People new to the genre had suggestions that supported their learning; music students were passionate about digital engagement – themselves young ambassadors for a new generation – and more established audiences wanted the orchestras they loved to be more accessible. At the RPO we are already making progress in many of these areas and these steps form part of our mission to present orchestral music to the broadest possible audience.”
Top 10 perceived innovations that would make people more likely to attend an orchestral concert (national average results)
- Shorter concerts of an hour, rather than having them in two halves – 27%
- Having access to information before the concert so I can understand the music a little better - 27%
- More daytime or matinee concerts, so I can take family and friends – 24%
- Not having to dress up to go to a concert – 24%
- The conductor speaking to the audience before a performance – 20%
- Meet and greets with the players / soloists after a concert – 17%
- Digital programmes I can access in advance on my tablet or device – 12%
- Being allowed to take photographs or film clips of the concert with my phone - 12%
- Being encouraged to applaud between movements, or when I want to – 12%
- Being encouraged to react on social media during the concert – 11%
 RPO research has revealed an upturn in the percentage of people that would like to experience an orchestral concert - up from 79% in 2018 to 84% in 2023.
Discover the RPO's 2023–24 season in Cadogan Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall.
The research was conducted by Sego Research among a nat rep sample of 2,071 adults in July 2023. The survey was conducted online.
More information or to arrange interviews contact:
Guy Bellamy / Jim Follett - elephant communications
Tel: 07766 775216 or 07908 551571