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Thoughts on an "ageing" audience

Tonight I want to talk about that ridiculous old canard that the audience for classical music is dying off. The proof offered is the undeniably disproportionate number of gray heads in the audience at most symphony concerts. When I came to San Antonio in 1988, the audience was largely (not entirely) gray-haired. Oh no! They would die soon and we wouldn’t have an audience at all! When bankruptcy was declared in 2003, the audience was largely (not entirely) gray-haired. Oh no! They would die soon and we wouldn’t have an audience at all! When SMSA tried to take us over in 2017, the audience was largely (not entirely) gray-haired. Oh no! They would....well, you know. Here’s the thing. Younger and middle-aged adults are very often in the throes of demanding careers, many are raising children, they have car loans and mortgages and for many, student loans. Time, energy, and discretionary money are limited, although many of these adults do find room in their budgets to provide their children with instruments and music lessons. Eventually children grow up, careers reach equilibrium, discretionary money is suddenly more plentiful, and people start going to the symphony. Just because many of our patrons are older by the time concerts fit into their lives, it does not follow that the audience is dying off. It is a cycle that has been going on for generations and can reasonably be expected to go on for generations to come.


-Mary Ellen Goree

Orchestra Committee Chair

Principal 2nd Violin

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