'I love ageing classical audiences', says Stephen Hough

The great British pianist Stephen Hough has entered the debate over greying audiences at classical concerts by writing of his delight at playing to a bus load of old people.

Stephen Hough

Stephen Hough recounted the joy he felt at seeing a bus load of senior citizens arriving at one of his recent Canadian concerts, in particular a man in a wheelchair.

"It seemed to me wonderful that he was there to hear Beethoven and I was the one who this evening was to bring that music to life," Hough writes in the Daily Telegraph .

"He reminded me of the fact, often lamented, that audiences for classical concerts are mainly made up of old people, and how difficult it seems to be to attract the young to attend. In that Edmonton moment – by the parked bus, amidst the clink of Zimmer frames – this seemed like a blasphemy. Greying audiences? I Iove them!" says Hough.

A recent survey in France showed that the average age of classical audiences there had increased from 36 to 61 since 1981. But Hough seems relaxed about the changing demographics of concertgoers.

"With old age comes wisdom, patience, subtlety, contemplation – all qualities needed to appreciate great and complex music," he writes.

And while he is delighted to see young people at concerts and believes they should be reached out to, he says it should not be at the expense of making older people feel less welcome.

Classical music should be a "great equaliser" across the ages, Hough believes. "Timeless, universal, ageless."

Are there too many old people at concerts? Or do orchestras pursue young audiences too slavishly? Have your say below.