Findings from RPO’s YouGov poll.
The managing director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, James Williams, has recently cited video games as an “access point” for young children to hear orchestral music for the first time.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Williams said “… exposure to orchestral music in all its forms is a fantastic thing.”
He went on to say “It is encouraging to hear that there are platforms and opportunities for young people to engage with orchestral music, albeit in different mediums. It is about sparking their interest.”
The RPO conducted a YouGov survey in which children between the ages of six and 16 were asked how they came across orchestral music.
15% said “when it’s part of a computer game I’m playing”, and 11% said “when I go to music concerts”.
According to the YouGov poll, film soundtracks were the most common way youngsters encountered orchestral music, followed by television.
Williams described video game music as something that’s “recognised as an art form in its own right”, with “very prestigious” composers scoring the soundtracks to various games.
“This is a very big industry now, all the major gaming companies commission their own music and they often have their own [in-house] composers,” Williams said. “The church and the royal court were the two major sponsors of music hundreds of years ago. Now music is being created in different enterprises and genres.”
Back in May the RPO, in collaboration with the City of London Choir performed the first PlayStation in Concert event at the Royal Albert Hall, celebrating two decades of video game music.
“That attracted a fascinating audience, many of whom had never been to a live concert before,” said Williams. “There is a whole spectrum of new opportunities for orchestras.”
When trying to convey the quality of video game music to classical music purists, Williams said it can sometimes be a “delicate conversation”.
“This is in no way undermining Beethoven and Brahms which are still the core repertoire,” he said. “But we are embracing all these new opportunities, they are access points for new audiences.”
He went on to say “Often they simply haven’t been exposed to [video game music], and might be surprised by the quality… ”
Something else that the YouGov survey suggested is that less than a third of children experienced classical music at school.
“The thing I found most alarming is the fact that in those schools that didn’t encourage music, the number who went on to discover other music fell dramatically,” said Williams. “That is a worrying trend.”