Arts & Culture

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra success assisted by rising appeal of pop-influenced concerts

Photo by Larisa Birta on Unsplash

The number of people that would like to experience an orchestral concert has hit a five-year peak, according to audience research from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO).

The survey shows that 84% of respondents in 2023 would like to attend an orchestral concert, which is up from 79% in 2018.

While the allure of traditional repertoire held firm for the third consecutive year at 24%, there were year-on-year uplifts in the appeal of broader, family-friendly orchestral concerts.

The RPO said the data delivers welcome news for the orchestral world, in terms of the resurgent popularity of concerts and evidence also that the genre’s audience is growing. It comes in addition to the real-world data which shows ticket sales for RPO concerts now exceeding pre-pandemic levels – an average increase of 24% per concert.

James Williams, the RPO’s managing director, said: “After a hugely challenging period for the orchestral world, in terms of venue closures during Covid and uncertainty over arts funding, we need to focus on rebuilding public confidence in concerts and investing in further growing tomorrow’s orchestral audience.”

Audience engagement

The RPO research, which polled a representative sample of 2,000 adults, has tracked audience engagement with orchestral music for the last five years.

The research shows that concerts featuring hits from the musicals was up to 34%. Concerts that combined orchestral and pop music were up to 31%, while film music concerts rose to 30%.

There was also a sharp rise in the appeal of child-friendly family concerts – rising from 19% to 26%.

RPO said the rise of more popular concerts this year correlates with evidence of a broadening of the orchestral audience – as people new to the genre commit to their first orchestral concert experiences. Nationally the audience new to orchestral music outnumbered the established audience by 54% to 37%.

Williams added: “Our task as an orchestra is not to prescribe what people should listen to, rather we need to nurture a journey of discovery – and that’s exactly what the RPO will be doing with our new season, which launches in a few weeks’ time.”