We popped over to Belgium to check out classical music's newest concert hall.
What does classical music need to do now and in the future? We ask the founders of the demographic-smashing Multi-Story Orchestra for their view.
The Multi-Story Orchestra performs in concrete car parks. You'll see plenty of skinny jeans and hipster beards as a young audience enjoys an orchestral performance from some of London's finest musicians. And it's often washed down with a craft beer or two.
This all seems many miles away from the image of stuffy programme notes, half-filled concert halls, and (for many classical organisations) ageing audiences. We asked its founders Kate Whitley and Christopher Stark for the five things classical music needs to do to connect more with a new, young diverse audience, now and in the future.
Here's what they had to say... (with a few pics of the Multi-Story Orchestra performances they do)
1) Never dumb down anything
"People can always tell when they are being patronised, and the only way classical music will manage to survive is to reach wider audiences by believing in what it has to offer, and not by trying to change what it is."
2) Think about how it looks to an outsider
"A lot of elements of traditional live classical music performances can come across as very confusing, especially when everyone else in the hall seems to know what is going on. It would make a big difference if everyone involved in the classical music occasionally imagined how it looked from the outside."
3) Be inventive with programming
"Traditional classical concerts are often made up of an overture, concerto, and symphony – an old convention that we don’t necessarily have to follow. I have never heard anyone complain that a concert was too short."
4) Don’t talk about classical music using words that no-one understands
"Almost all musical things can be explained in terms that anyone could understand. Talking to children about classical music is an amazing learning curve in realising that they instinctively understand a huge amount, but the words that tend to go around that can put people off. There’s no reason to use technical jargon."
5) Be proud of what it is
"This is sort of the same point as the first – classical music is amazing and there isn’t any good reason why is should be less accessible than any other art form. If we can lose the perception that it is ‘difficult’ or only for those ‘in the know’, then there shouldn’t be a reason to need to be writing this!"
Does this all get you in the mood for a different sort of classical performance? Here's what the Multi-Story Orchestra are up to this summer. Tickets from £5 here: multi-story.org.uk (that craft beer's optional, but very much recommended)