American figures suggest that the average age of attendance at a symphony concert in 1937 was 30. Australian census data does not exist from that time but the demographic is likely to have been similar. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported that the largest proportion of attendees at classical music concerts in 2009–10 was the cohort aged 65–74. Carl Vine, the artistic director of the independent performing arts organisation Musica Viva, remains unperturbed: “What would bother me would be if they were over 80. At 60, we still have 20 years of subscriber left.”
I feel less sanguine. Might there be a concert a few decades hence in which – God willing – my trio is still performing, but only to an audience of one? And if that listener were to perish mid performance, would we keep playing?