Sharing Music: Social and Communal Aspects of Concert-Going
There is increasing interest in the academic community to better understand how concert audiences experience and value live classical music (Kolb 2000; Pitts 2005; Pitts et al. 2013; Radbourne, Glow & Johanson 2013). Numerous authors have recognised the social value of concert attendance, especially important for infrequent and young attendees (Brown 2002; ACE 2004), however it is often assumed that frequent attendees are motivated by purely aesthetic reasons. Similarly, it has been acknowledged that a listener’s experience of a concert is impacted by the presence of other audience members (Pitts 2005), yet there has been little research on the nature of the ‘community’ formed by a concert audience. In this paper, we wish to share our initial findings from our two collaborative doctoral awards in partnership with a regional chamber music promoter and a regional symphony orchestra. Through questionnaires, focus groups and interviews with audience members, we have sought to add additional understanding of concert attendance as a form of socialising, the short-term communal aspects of being ‘in-audience’, and the longer-term communities that surround cultural institutions, which can be seen to be displaying fan-like qualities. We aim to demonstrate that aesthetic pleasure is never the only motivating factor behind concert attendance, even for frequent attendees, as their selection of concerts and their listening experiences are always influenced by social interactions.