Have you ever found yourself humming along to the intro of Game of Thrones, or did your eyes well up with tears during the emotional final trailer of the last Star Wars movie? You might very well be a closeted classical music fan without even realising it. And it’s Millennials who are reinventing classical music, changing the way we listen to, access it, and follow modern artists and classical greats. 

What was once seen as music reserved for the older generation has recently experienced a boom in Millennial listeners. But that might not come as much of a surprise to some. Classical music is often the soundtrack to sporting events, films and video games in our modern lives. A June 2019 report from MIDiA Research found 30 per cent of classical listeners are under the age of 35 and the genre is the fourth-most popular, behind pop, classic rock, and country – beating out hip-hop. So, why are so many Millennials now turning to classical music? 

Blockbuster scores 

What do the films Indiana Jones, Gladiator and Jaws have in common? Their soundtracks were composed by some of the biggest names in classical music. Thanks to the rise of blockbuster films using classical music scores, more of us are now exposed to the sounds of classical music. Names like John Williams and Hans Zimmer are common in classical music libraries thanks to big film franchises like Star Wars, Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean

But it’s not only films where Millennials are exposed to the genre through orchestral music, video games too have been revitalised through classical music. Many orchestras around the world have also begun performing live concerts of the scores from some of the most popular video games. 

Mozart in our back pocket

Technology is also changing the way music is accessed, consumed and shared among the younger generation. Today, we have access to classical music in the palm of our hands thanks to streaming services such as Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music. 

While the film and gaming industries are exposing Millennials to the sounds of classical music, it’s digital streaming services that help them discover the world of the classical genre. This is also helped by mood-based playlists and algorithmic recommendations on streaming services. Search for “relaxing piano music” and you’ll likely be recommended Beethoven, Bach and Einaudi for future listening. 

Chill out to Tchaikovsky

Like most of us, Millennials also turn to music for their emotional release and to escape from the everyday grind. Classical music provides that release. If we think of classical orchestra music as the equivalent of a long massage, dance music becomes more like the double-shot espresso we drink in five-seconds flat on a Monday morning. 

A 2018 study on the effect of different types of music on anxiety found that classical music can cause the heart rate and breathing to slow, and emotional distress to decrease. The MIDiA report also found that 63 per cent of surveyed classical listeners choose to listen to the genre because it helps them relax, 29 per cent choose classical to help them concentrate, and 14 per cent say they listen to the genre to help them sleep.

Experience ‘Blues, Reviews & Avenues’ live

Classical music isn’t created to be listened to through headphones alone. Listening to the genre is also about being part of the experience, and that can only happen at live concerts. Recorded classical music is merely a snapshot and you can only see the bigger picture when you’re immersed in the vibrato of the flute and the blast of the brass.

‘Blues, Reviews and Avenues’ with Bernstein – Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and Ravel – Piano Concerto in G, Soloist – Gareth Szakos, will be performed on Sunday 1 December at the Performing Arts Centre at Central Coast Grammar School. This ‘jazzical’ concert is the last one for the year and will include Broadway performances from graduating students from Palm Tree Studios. Tickets start at just $15. Go to www.symphonycentralcoast.com.au or call 4365 8497 to book yours.