Don't roll over Beethoven

The Roundhouse is more famous for rock than symphonies, but it could be just the venue to build up a young classical fanbase, says Jessica Duchen

How to persuade young people to attend classical concerts is an issue that has troubled the music world for decades. Attempt after attempt has bitten the dust, leaving the largely over-50s demographic of classical audiences virtually unchanged, give or take a little marketing via Facebook.

Now a dynamic new series in Camden Town is set to break the mould. Reverb at the Roundhouse, featuring everything from Beethoven to cutting-edge new works, is bringing classical music into a venue that has a devoted following among young fans of the coolest rock and pop gigs.

Will the teens and twenty-somethings of north London be ready to sample Bach or experimental percussion? Marcus Davey, chief executive and artistic director of the Roundhouse, is certain they will. The Roundhouse runs programmes at its studios in which local youngsters explore music-making, broadcasting, film-making and music production. One day, offered a box at a Prom, Davey gave the seats to some of the Roundhouse teenagers who had never been to a classical concert. "They were absolutely blown away," Davey declares. "They said: 'You ever heard of this amazing Stravinsky bloke?' They loved the energy and the fantastic playing."

Concerts targeted at young people have tended to water-down classical music to make it "cool". Most teenagers see through such gimmicks straight away. "They know when they're being patronised," Davey says.

The Roundhouse is no stranger to classical performances: in the 1970s it hosted a series of contemporary-focused concerts by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez, and the piano duo of Katia and Marielle Labèque made their London debut there. The Labèques are returning for Reverb.

One of the most exciting contributions comes from the London Contemporary Orchestra: launched in 2008, its players' average age is 25. "All of us are passionate about contemporary music and thrilled to devote so much attention to it," says the LCO violinist Davina Clarke.

The LCO's founders, conductor Hugh Brunt and violist Robert Ames, have a secret weapon: the chairman of their board is Simon Ambrose, the winner of The Apprentice in 2007. Ambrose developed a passion for contemporary music when he heard the works of Cage and Stockhausen at school. "I'd question whether classical music really is losing popularity," he says. "Many of our supporters and audience members see classical as just one part of a lively musical diet."

The LCO's adventurous programme for Reverb includes a new Concerto for Turntable by Shiva Feshareki, the UK premiere of John Cage's Seventy-Four, and Steve Reich's Different Trains with live film created by the youngsters of the Roundhouse Studios. More thrills are promised from the likes of the pianists Joanna MacGregor and Rolf Hind, and the Britten Sinfonia with the popular young American composer Nico Muhly.

And how will the big historical classics go across? The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is bringing in its ground-breaking Night Shift concept. They'll perform Beethoven's Seventh Symphony conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, with a band before and club night after provided by the Roundhouse Collective.

Has the Roundhouse solved the young audience problem at last? Ambrose says. "What's important is to be open-minded." Maybe that's the most crucial thing of all.

22-31 January (0844 482 8008; Roundhouse.org.uk)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    9 best steam generator irons

    9 best steam generator irons

    To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
    England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
    ‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

    ‘We knew he was something special’

    Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York