1st Edition

Audience Experience and Contemporary Classical Music Negotiating the Experimental and the Accessible in a High Art Subculture

By Gina Emerson Copyright 2023
    240 Pages 38 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book responds to recent debates on cultural participation and the relevance of music composed today with the first large-scale audience experience study on contemporary classical music.

    Through analysing how existing audience members experience live contemporary classical music, this book seeks to make data-informed contributions to future discussions on audience diversity and accessibility. The author takes a multidimensional view of audience experience, looking at how sociodemographic factors and the frames of social context and concert format shape aesthetic responses and experiences in the concert hall. The book presents quantitative and qualitative audience data collected at twelve concerts in ten different European countries, analysing general trends alongside case studies. It also offers the first large-scale comparisons between the concert experiences and tastes of contemporary classical and classical music audiences.

    Contemporary classical music is critically discussed as a ‘high art subculture’ rife with contradictions and conflicts around its cultural value. This book sheds light on how audiences negotiate the tensions between experimentalism and accessibility that currently define this genre. It provides insights relevant to academics from audience research in the performing arts and from musicology, as well as to institutions, practitioners and artists.

    List of Figures

    List of Tables

    List of Abbreviations


    Foreword by Professor Stephanie Pitts

    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Chapter 2: Conceptualising and Researching Audience Experience

    Chapter 3: Contemporary Classical Music and its Audiences

    Chapter 4: Who and Why? Demographics and Motivations to Attend

    Chapter 5: CCM as High Art Subculture: Audience Tastes and Perceptions

    Chapter 6: The Social and the Aesthetic I: Musical Expertise and Experiences with Live CCM

    Chapter 7: The Social and the Aesthetic II: Aesthetic Experience and CCM

    Chapter 8: CCM and Audience Participation: A Case Study

    Chapter 9: Institution–Audience Relationships in CCM Culture

    Chapter 10: ‘Written without regard to the audience’: Classical Music Attendees on CCM

    Chapter 11: Conclusion


    Appendix 1: Methodological Appendix

    Appendix 2: Survey Questionnaires

    Appendix 3: Supplementary Tables

    Appendix 4: Supplementary Figures

    Appendix 5: Full List of Works Performed at the Survey Concerts



    Dr. Gina Emerson is a musicologist and curator. Her research explores and connects the topics of audience experience, sustainability and cultural participation in art music contexts. She is currently Postdoctoral Research Associate at the IASS Potsdam in the Art-Science Cooperations for Sustainability group.