"Enjoying Classical Concerts"
by Glenys Robinson

Whenever I hear the pessimistic forecasts for the future of classical music, I feel gripped with anguish. What can I do about it? On a practical level, I have already started my own mission to "rescue" the music I love so much. Only a drop in the ocean, of course, but if all art music lovers did the same, I'm sure it would have a great impact.

What I try to do is introduce the people around me to music and try and pass my enthusiasm on to them. I'm not trying to convert anyone, I'm convinced there are many would-be concert goers/Cd buyers out there who "don't know what they're missing" and would be bowled over by the discovery of classical music. I concentrate on very young children and over 35s because I find they're the most receptive.

I've been helped by the opening of our beautiful new Auditorium in Rome. I've made the most of people's curiosity to encourage them to attend a concert. I choose the programme carefully - something I know will be a special experience for the first-time concert goer. I lend Cds so they can prepare themselves beforehand....

and the music does the rest!!! Result: great enthusiasm, many thanks, and the purchase of several Cds.

I tell them anecdotes about composers (whenever the opportunity comes along) to make them appear more human - with all their virtues and faults. Not everyone becomes a real fan, but even the occasional concert is another ticket sold, another Cd bought. I aim to spread the love of music to ten people and believe if everyone did the same, it'd have the effect of ripples on a pond.

With children it can be fun and something that gives me great satisfaction. I'm no music teacher but I find that dancing to the music helps them to realise that classical music is something natural and exciting, and not at all stuffy and old-fashioned. We crouch, jump, stretch and kick to the sounds and it's great fun... though have you ever danced through Beethoven's 7th?! It's exhausting, but very satisfying when your 4-year old neighbour brings her 8-year-old cousin back for an encore!

As to my own likes and dislikes... I like everything about traditional concerts, I always have, since my music teacher took me to hear the Halle' when I was 12. I love the ceremony, the choice of programmes, and I love "penguin suits"! Please don't let them take one of the old concert-goers' pleasures away to try and "attract younger audiences" - who, if they're put off by the "uniform" are unlikely to appreciate the music anyway.

However, I wouldn't be too pessimistic, the trend could change from one day to the next, maybe after an Oscar-winning film about a musician or a well-planned TV series. We might even find ourselves fighting to get seats one day but in the meantime I'll carry on with my "private mission" - just in case!