Norman Lebrecht: 'If you have a dying audience, you're doing it wrong'

29 July 2014, 12:01

Norman Lebrecht at the Bristol Proms 2014

The broadcaster and critic spoke to Classic FM about the potentially huge new audiences for classical music, and how the digital revolution has made genre obsolete.


Critic and broadcaster Norman Lebrecht has praised the Bristol Proms on its positive, inclusive outlook on the classical concert, but also pointed to the problem of dwindling audience numbers.

Speaking to Classic FM backstage at the opening night of the 2014 Bristol Proms, Lebrecht warned that diminishing audiences for classical music were a sign that the industry is not presenting the music in the right way.

"There is an awful lot of wailing, an awful lot of people talking about declining audiences, ageing audiences and dying audiences and so on. If you have a dying audience, it means you're doing it wrong."

Gallery: Bryn Terfel performs at the Bristol Proms

To even label the genre 'classical' music is, Lebrecht also argued, completely missing the point: "It's not classical. Music is music. The moment you start putting categories to things, you diminish them."

However, Lebrecht was full of praise for the Bristol Proms itself and, in particular its attitude to concerts in general.

"It's an opportunity to do things a little differently, a little less formally, in a part of the country which is not well-endowed with high-grade musical activity."

He added: "Potentially, it's very exciting, and I see some considerable evolution between this year and last year. It's going places."

His comments follow head of Universal Max Hole's confirmation that the Bristol Proms would be returning for a third year in 2015.

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