New Study Reveals 84% of People Wish to Experience an Orchestral Concert
Audience research by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from 2018 to 2023, has shown an increased interest for orchestral music
The UK’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has tracked audience engagement with orchestral music since 2018.
Through polling a representative sample of 2,000 adults, RPO’s new research study has revealed that the number of people who would like to experience an orchestral concert has hit a five-year peak — up from 79% in 2018 to 84% in 2023.
For the third year in a row, audiences for traditional repertoire remained at 24%, while there were yearly increases in the attendance of broader, family-friendly orchestral concerts.
Due to an uptick at these events, audiences new to orchestral music outnumbered frequent concertgoers by 54% to 37%, nationally.
Concerts featuring music from hit musicals drew 34% of the surveyed audience; 31% attended concerts that combined orchestral and pop music; audiences for film music concerts rose to 30%; and child-friendly family concert audiences rose from 19% to 26%.
Further statistics revealed that 42% of first-time concertgoers would more likely attend orchestral concerts featuring pop music. Of this group, 37% would also choose concerts featuring music from the musicals, and 34% would attend those including soundtracks from popular TV shows.
Of those who were just beginning to attend more orchestral concerts (but were not yet experts), 36% said they would be drawn to musicals, and 34% of them would most likely select a live-to-film concert.
Additionally, 27% of those studying music or learning an instrument said they would choose a concert featuring traditional repertoire. Of this category, 28% would also go with loved ones to family-friendly concerts, and 30% would select musicals.
For long-standing orchestral music fans, 52% opted for traditional repertoire concerts, and 25% would select chamber music events. In this group, 36% would attend film music concerts, and 36% would enjoy hits from musicals.
For audiences with no current relationship with the orchestral world, 24% of them would be interested in experiencing a blockbuster film night for the first time, and 23% would attend orchestral concerts that featured pop music hits.
In the summer 2023 survey data of people’s relationship with orchestral music, 31% of people said they had enjoyed classical music for many years, and 30% asserted that while it was not their favorite genre of music, they would listen to orchestral music if they preferred something different.
“After a hugely challenging period for the orchestral world, in terms of venue closures during COVID and uncertainty over arts funding, we need to focus on rebuilding public confidence in concerts and investing in further growing tomorrow’s orchestral audience,” said RPO’s managing director, James Williams.
“Our latest data suggests the audience for live orchestral performance has grown over the last five years, which is most welcome news. Indeed, ticket sales for RPO concerts across the 2022/23 season exceeded pre-pandemic levels (an average increase of 24% per concert) and sales for the 2023/24 season are off to a terrific start.
“At the RPO we strive to offer a greater breadth of programming that is welcoming to new and diverse audiences and have found that the more creative entry points we offer, the more people that will start journeys of discovery and move on to experience more challenging repertoire,” Williams continued.
“A noteworthy finding from our latest research was that between 10-20% of all respondents said they would look to experience traditional repertoire as part of a broader concert mix,” Williams added. “Our task as an orchestra is not to prescribe what people should listen to, rather we need to nurture a journey of discovery — and that’s exactly what the RPO will be doing with our new season, which launches in a few weeks’ time.”