Someone Tell Carnegie’s Perelman That Millennials Do Like Classical Music

As an interesting juxtaposition to what incoming Carnegie Hall board chair, Ronald Perelman, apparently believes is a general distaste for classical music among the Millennial generation, CityScope magazine recently published an article by Karen Wilson titled Elegant, Evocative, Edgy — The New Face of Classical Music that focuses on a group of classical musicians in Chattanooga, TN and some their work with building an audience base from a broad generational cross section.

Each musician is provided a cliff notes size profile and it would be interesting to see an expanded version of each one; nonetheless, among the profiles is Inside The Arts author and Chattanooga Symphony & Opera concertmaster, Holly Mulcahy. At her Inside The Arts blog, Neo Classical, Mulcahy has been publishing a regular series of articles about her audience building efforts and (spoiler alert) most of the individuals she interacts with are not stereotypical gray haired orchestra patrons.

Of particular interest is the article about the Tea With Strangers program where Mulcahy participates as a a host and organizer.

So no, classical music isn’t dying nor is it Millennial repellant. As CityScope reaffirms, it is filled with dynamic individuals across multiple generations who appeal to an equally broad number of listeners.


About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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2 thoughts on “Someone Tell Carnegie’s Perelman That Millennials Do Like Classical Music”

  1. I’m excited that you featured our article! The piece was my baby (I’m an editor at CityScope). I’m a millennial (age 25) and somewhat of a classical music evangelist. The article came shortly after reading a lot of Alex Ross. 🙂

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