FW Exclusive: Hot Young Conductor Eye Candy Can Save Classical Music


That classical music’s audience is old is a given, but industry insiders call insinuations that the genre is dying off alarmist. Ok. But you have to admit, they’re certainly not getting any younger.

The National Endowment for the Art says that in 1982 the average age of those attending a classical music performance was 40. A decade later it was 49. So no, we’re not talking about ROBIN WILLIAMS in JACK. It’s just clear that few, if any, new classical music fans are being added to the age pool.

How do we anti-age audiences? That’s one of the questions FLAVORWIRE asked famed conductor CARLO PONTI, whose debut album MOUSSORGSKY – PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION — recorded with the RUSSIAN NATIONAL ORCHESTRA is out on December 2nd. His mom is timeless screen beauty SOPHIA LOREN, so we thought the man might have a secret elixir up his sleeve. Instead he gave us homeless people.

Check it out after the jump.

Flavorwire: It seems intuitive that you need to broaden your audience base. How do you do that?

Carlo Ponti: It’s something I’ve done as the Music Director of the San Bernardino Symphony – and not just with age, but across all demographics. You have to program music with that mind and keep things accessible. Do things like have regular concerts for children. I grew up with classical music in my life. My parents were both very musical people, so artists like Brahms and Mozart were always playing in my house.

FW: For someone who has no background in classic music, where would you tell them to start?

CP: I would definitely play them Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I’ve done a lot of public performances of this one and even if you were to put together an audience of homeless people, they would be touched by the music. There’s something very organic about it.

FW: What do people not understand about your job as a conductor?

CP: I am an entertainer. I am there to make you focus on the podium and come along on a musical journey with me. I’m someone who makes every concert into an event.

After a big lull in the ’90s, classical music is coming out strong and the stigma of old conductors is being erased by a lot of young dynamic people. Now when young people look at a conductor, it’s like looking in a mirror and they can identify more easily.

Related post: FW Exclusive: Composer Lukas Ligeti Talks About Breaking Down Walls in Classical Music