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Early Music Flows in the Mainstream According to New National Study

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Survey finds nearly 100 million Americans listen to Early Music every year

Seattle, Washington. The new national study by Early Music America finds that early music is an integral part of classical music making in North America, with an astonishing 98.5 million American adults listening to some early music in the past year on radio or on recordings. About 21.4 million of these attended a live performance of early music in the last year.

The early music movement, which focuses on the issues of historically informed performance practice, has had a significant impact on the mainstream classical music world and is now more widely accepted as part of the classical mainstream than it was 15 years ago.

“Through this survey we sought to measure the role of early music in American musical life," says Maria Coldwell, executive director of Early Music America. “The survey contains the most powerful evidence ever gathered about the importance and influence of early music."

Supported by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, EMA hired the professional research firm Robinson and Muenster to conduct surveys both of the public and of hundreds of individual EMA members. EMA also conducted comprehensive in-house surveys to assess activities of its organizational members, educational institutions, and the members of Chamber Music America.

Surprisingly, more and more classical musicians now play historical versions of their instruments. Over 75% of respondents from Chamber Music America also reported that “historically informed performance practices have had a significant impact on the way they play their modern instruments."

Through analysis of playlists published on classical radio station websites, EMA estimated that 30% of the classical music played on the radio in the US is music written before 1800, and about 40% of that is music performed on period instruments in historically informed styles.

EMA found (no surprise here) that the field of early music is a highly educated one, and that education is more predictive of engagement with music than any other demographic factor, including household income.

While it is still difficult to make a full-time living from playing and teaching early music in US, the majority of professional players make between 50% and 60% of their income directly from early music, supplementing their income from other sources, creating a profile similar to that of many classical musicians.

The 32-page report, Early Music in America: A Study of Early Music Performers, Listeners, and Organizations, is available in its entirety at the Early Music America website, along with supplemental data reports and documentation.

About Early Music America

Early Music America serves and strengthens the early music community in North America and raises public awareness of early music. EMA was founded in 1985 and provides its 3,000 members with publications, advocacy, and technical support. EMA publishes the quarterly magazine Early Music America. “Early music" includes western music from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods, performed on period instruments in historically-informed styles. For more information, contact Early Music America at 206-720-6270 or 888-SACKBUT, or visit our web site at www.earlymusic.org.

This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz Publicity.
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