Classical music's new audience?

Orchestras have long been trying to boost their ageing audiences. Now the London Symphony Orchestra, widely regarded as the most glamorous of Britain's orchestras, is taking the fight to the frontline - by marketing itself to babies. The orchestra has developed a series of DVDs aimed at babies aged above six months, with themes such as "shapes and patterns", "the world around us", and "seasons". Images of swirling paints, cloud-filled skies, wooden animals, and fields of rustling lavender, are accompanied by Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, or Holst's The Planets Suite.

Kathryn McDowell, the LSO's managing director, called it a "cradle-to-grave" audience development idea, put together with a company called Baby IQ. "If you introduce people to music [when they are] toddlers, then perhaps later they come to family concerts or get involved in an LSO education project. Then they know it's the LSO. It's all about brand recognition."

Chaz Jenkins, of the LSO, who developed the project for the orchestra, said:
"The LSO already reaches people from as young as three years old with education work ... babies are much more difficult to reach but a lot of research suggests [they] are very receptive to classical music, much more than to music with more beats. So we have been looking for a long time about how to reach very young children."

Only nine of 39 LSO Barbican concerts, in London, during the 2006-07 season, include works by living composers, plus an arrangement by Colin Matthews. Ms McDowell indicated that the contemporary music programming would depend on the predilection of the orchestra's conductors.

She added that, in the past, it was "the trappings of classical concerts that tended to put people off [going to a performance]". The way the orchestra presented itself to potential audiences was important. She would be banishing images of the orchestra itself from their brochures and leaflets. The LSO also now communicated via text messages, and had LSO ringtones available on its website.

From today's Guardian.

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