NICOLA Benedetti has slammed “terrible” and “offensive” suggestions that too many elderly fans turn up for classical music concerts.
The 29-year-old violinist said it was wrong to criticise audiences for being old and there was nothing wrong with fewer youngsters attending performances.
The virtuoso musician, from West Kilbride, North Ayrshire, said classical music did not need to be presented “like a sweetie” for youngsters.
Bendetti, in a radio interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, suggested older people may naturally be at the stage when they can better appreciate classical music.
Asked what was wrong with modern classical music, she replied: “One thing we get wrong is to criticise the audience for being old, as if that’s negative.
“I can’t believe how terrible that is and how offensive it is to categorise a group in that way and to encourage a generation gap.
“There’s a feeling that an audience is typically old and that we need to do something like that, like it’s a problem to be fixed.
“I don’t think it’s a problem to fix at all. I think it’s a beautiful thing if people get to a stage in their life where they are maybe retired and have worked hard and brought up their family.
“Are they going to keep going to pop and rock concerts for the rest of their life?
“You don’t need a kid to think [classical music] is like a sweetie.”
Bendetti is against the trend of classical music lovers being older, winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2004, at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh.
A recent survey conducted by French researchers found that the average age of classical concert goers had increased from 36 to 61 since 1981.
But other musicians have also previously bemoaned the focus on attracting older audiences to concerts.
55-year-old classical pianist Stephen Hough previously said: “With old age comes wisdom, patience, subtlety, contemplation – all qualities needed to appreciate great and complex music.”
But others have disagreed with the sentiment.
Writing in an Australian magazine, pianist Anna Goldsworthy, 43, said: “Although we might all be marching towards death at the same tempo, it is difficult to escape the fact that my audience is several decades further down the road than I am.
“And I am less and less confident that a new audience will come marching in to replace them.
“It is reassuring to imagine that our audiences will naturally renew themselves, but last year, on tour with my trio, Seraphim, I started to have my doubts.”