Kent Nagano: We have North America’s youngest concert audience

Kent Nagano: We have North America’s youngest concert audience


norman lebrecht

March 18, 2016

Not sure how this claim can be refuted, but here’s what the Montreal music director says in an interview with our pal Michael Johnson.

‘Here in Montreal our audience is now statistically among the youngest in North America. We sell out every concert, and the OSM has become a meeting point for sharing values and esthetic discussions. That’s at the core of what the identity and definition of a symphony orchestra is and should be. From that point of view it is very exciting here.’

Go on, trump that.



  • Andy says:

    Trump that? How ’bout Mr Nagano provides proof? Who’s gathering these statistics at orchestras across the continent?

    He can certainly brag about sellouts.

    Whether people at Montreal Symphony concerts discuss aesthetics rather than their work, their family, their health, and all the other mundane things that I’ve heard folks nattering about at concert intermissions is questionable.

    I don’t doubt that Mr Nagano holds forth on aesthetics and other lofty stuff. Interminably, in fact, based on interviews I’ve read and heard.

    If there is a statistical database somewhere that contains the average age of North American orchestra patrons, I’ll strip and streak down Saint Catherine Street.

    Trump that.

    • MWnyc says:

      “If there is a statistical database somewhere that contains the average age of North American orchestra patrons, I’ll strip and streak down Saint Catherine Street.”

      I’m pretty sure that the League of American Orchestras has just such stats, although the data is almost certainly reported by the orchestras themselves.

      But Saint Catherine Street already has gay strip clubs, so don’t bother with the streaking unless you’re really hot and need a job there.

      • Mikey says:

        You realize that Sainte-Catherine street is at least 20 kilometres long right and goes almost half the length of the island?

        There are also more heterosexual strip clubs than gay ones on Sainte-Catherine.

    • Roscoe Daoust says:

      I curious about the “other mundane things” you heard at intermission. Can you share? ” health, family”, etc?

      • Andy says:

        The Charbonneau commission, outrage at having been greeted in English at Birks, anger at having encountered the word “hamburger” instead of the officially sanctioned “hambourgeois” in a restaurant, astonishment at the proliferation of hajibs around Complexe Desjardins, concern about whether Pierre Karl Peladeau and Julie Snyder have a pre-nup, hot dogs, Pepsi, Mae West, poutine. The usual stuff.

  • Tom says:

    OSM tickets are absurdly expensive by Canadian standards. I doubt anyone under 30 can afford to go regularly.

  • Respect says:

    Since when has being positive about your work become a negative? He’s not a politician, there’s truly no need to call in a fact checker……

    • Andy says:

      Being positive is a wonderful thing. So is being accurate. I’m assuming Mr. Lebrecht zeroed in on the “our audience is among the youngest” statement precisely because it’s so unusual a claim. Sort of like saying our audience is the tallest, or the smartest, or the most tolerant.

      I think Mr. Nagano, so enraptured with his own voice and everyone’s willingness to eagerly listen and nod in awe, made up a story. “Once upon a time, in a city called Montreal, teenagers and twenty-somethings realized that the best place meet and share values and esthetic discussions was at Place des Arts, where tickets to hear the orchestra are $200, $158, $121, $110, $94, $77.50, $58.50 and $42. Video arcades and coffee shops all across the island are shutting down as young people flood into Maison symphonique.”

      And if the League of American Orchestras has those statistics, I’ll streak down West 60th Street.

      • Mikey says:

        Check the prices for the New York Phil. convert those US dollars to CDN, and you’ll immediately notice that the prices are almost identical.

        • Milka says:

          No orchestra is worth 200 US orCanadian $$$ a seat- to pay that one can be thought
          of as a nut case .

          • Peter says:

            Ridiculous comment from someone who needs a reality check. (seen the ticket prices for pop concerts lately?)

          • Bruce says:

            Translation: people who enjoy classical music enough to pay more for concert tickets than Milka would, are crazy 🙂

  • Emily G says:

    When I was a McGill student I could often get inexpensive student tickets. Perhaps they still have something like that in Montreal.

  • Seeker64 says:

    Everytime I go to the Maison symphonique I am happily surprised at the great variety of people composing the audience and seniors are definitely a minority. A big unmissable one but still a minority. They ask about your age group when you book tickets online so they probably keep some statistics…

    • Feurich says:

      Prices at the Concertgebouw are cheaper than Montreal. That says something.

      • MacroV says:

        It says the Concertgebouw probably gets larger government and corporate subsidies. And maybe OSM player salaries are higher.

        In any case, Montreal is a very vibrant cultural city, with a wonderful music scene even outside the OSM. When I lived in Montreal in 2001-3 – the end of the Dutoit era – the OSM played beautifully but to many empty seats in Salle Wilfried Pelletier. The combination of the Nagano mystique (like it or not) and the Maison Symphonique seems to have made the OSM a hot (and expensive) ticket.

        • Don Ciccio says:

          If I understand correctly, Salle Wilfried Pelletier is 2-3 times larger than Maison Symphonique. That would also explain empty seats in the former and sold out concerts in the later.

  • Matthew Nye says:

    “One of the” is a beautifully ambiguous statement. Anecdotally, it is true that the audience in Montreal is young – I’m one of them. As a 32 year-old grad student in Montreal (who has lived in New York and Toronto), I belong to the demographic that Nagano and the OSM have been courting. We have access to better prices up the the age of 34, and there are free and better-priced concerts all summer.

    What you see in the hall and at intermission is a real cross-section of people of all ages. And yes, the concerts tend to be full. Montreal is a cultural city, and attracts a demographic that is uniquely engaged with the arts. This general enthusiasm is increased by the OSM’s new concert hall, and its continued engagement with the city. Makes sense to me.