Classical Music and the New London Middle Class

One thing I've puzzled over in London is why classical music is losing out in the 'new middle class cultural feeding frenzy.' London's a rich city and there's been an explosion of wealth in the last twenty years: hence the term 'new' or 'expanded' middle class.

A large group of young, educated, new-media savvy people - the product of the expanded universities - live and work in London, have cash in their pockets, and want to spend some of it on art. They're not experts but want more, in cultural terms, than Harry Potter and a night in the pub.

You see them, in huge numbers, in the London art galleries, particularly the cleverly branded Tate Modern. They join Facebook en masse and chatter about art on the internet. Many of my neighbours in the trendy district of London where I live (I went to live there before it became trendy) are very much part of this new, young, culturally hungry, wealthy, liberal, (small L) middle class.

Yet, except for the Proms, you seldom see them at classical music concerts. It's not on their radar. They won't buy tickets and dilute the grey-haired, traditional, ageing, rather stuffy and snobby, audience. Why?

If you study the cultural environment in which 18th century court music was performed it was obviously for the upper class alone. The middle class, and certainly the working class - God forbid! - didn't get a look in except as composers, performers, technicians and servants. But it was very much less stuffy than a London concert today.