Why Classical Music is Having a Major Moment in Toronto

Think classical music is boring and pretentious? Think again. Here’s why you should get into classical music right now.

Classical music is having a moment with younger audiences – and one that just may last.

Once thought of as stiff, pretentious, unattainable and borderline boring to younger demographics (don’t shoot the messenger) – perhaps something reserved for their grandparents – classical music is now catching the attention of millennial audiences.

While classical music can be tough to break into, a growing number of organizations are making it easier to do so. One initiative in Toronto is Tafelmusik’s Haus Musik series. The experiential concert series takes classical music out of the traditional concert hall and drops it into an unexpected theatrical setting for a one-night, mixed-genre and multisensory collaboration that redefines the classical music listening experience. Described as “the classical alternative,” Haus Musik performances – held at Toronto venues like the Great Hall – feature high-energy collaborations with DJs, sound designers, dancers and videographers. The vibe feels decidedly more like an underground party than a stuffy concert.

Institutions like the Toronto Symphony Orchestra have also taken initiatives to make the symphony more appealing to a younger demographic – from children to nostalgia-seeking adults – by offering things like live musical scores to accompany classic movies like Harry Potter, Home Alone and Jaws. The TSO’s 2016 New Creations Festival even featured a mash-up with popular DJ Skratch Bastid. Earlier this year, Instagram news feeds flooded with snaps of a special TSO show with Canadian pop music sensation, Carly Rae Jepsen. Furthermore, not only does the TSO’s Impersarios Club offer a cocktail-filed social element to the concert experience for young people, since 2001, the TSO’s TSOUNDCHEK program offers audience members between the ages of 15 and 35 discounted concert tickets for only $16.

South of the border, Groupmuse – described by Forbes as “the Airbnb for classical music” – is also changing how people experience the classical music genre by pairing music lovers who have a space to offer with classical musicians. The startup not only offers an approachable setting to experience classical music – whether that is a living room or a backyard – but also provides a way to put a few extra dollars into the wallets of hard-working musicians. For concertgoers, the experience comes with a modest price tag of $3.00.

The newfound appeal of classical music to a younger audience is also no doubt linked to the fact that the genre has also found its way onto both television screens and the big screen more prevalently and with greater popularity in recent years, with shows like Mozart in the Jungle – a drama about the classical music world (the fourth season begins on February 16) – and more attention now paid to a film’s score and soundtrack.

In Toronto, proof of millennials’ growing interest in classical music isn’t just revealed via Instagram, but also in the numbers. The New Classical FM radio – a classical radio station that reaches people in the GTA and southern Ontario – has experienced a 42 per cent increase in their listeners who are under the age of 35 in the past two years. According to audience-membership organization Numeris, this younger audience is tuning into the station for about 6.8 hours a week.

For busy, constantly stimulated young people, classical music can offer a needed escape from the grind and has been shown to improve overall levels of wellness. This includes lowered blood pressure, a better night’s sleep and an increase in IQ. If you don’t have any Mozart, Bach or Beethoven downloaded already, you may want to consider it. 

Are you a fan of classical music? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image: Instagram/ @ torontosymphony

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