skip to main content

New ABO Survey Reveals Orchestras Vital to UK Culture

A new survey by the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) has found that 74% of UK adults believe orchestras are an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage.

Published: 21 May 2024 | 1:04 PM
An orchestra performing a concerto live.
65% of UK adults believe that classical music is underappreciated today. Image credit: Bill Lam, The Hallé.

The MU has partnered with the Association of British Orchestras (ABO), along with Classic FM, Classical Music Magazine, LIVE, UK Music and the Independent Society of Musicians (ISM), to highlight the importance that orchestras hold for the nation.

The campaign involves new findings from a survey of 2,000 UK adults with a clear consensus: classical music is at the heart of some of our most important personal and national moments.

74% of UK adults say orchestras are a vital part of the country’s cultural heritage

British orchestras are some of the UK’s most globally admired and influential cultural organisations.

74% of the 2,000 UK adults surveys said that orchestras are a vital part of the UK’s cultural heritage, with 71% believing that classical music amplifies the big moments in life.

This includes weddings, funerals, sporting events and national ceremonies, revealing British orchestras to be a pillar of the country’s creative economy.

Steve Lamazq, Chair of LIVE, said “Classical musicians’ ability to bring audiences together across the spectrum - from traditional classical concerts to innovative collaborations with rock and pop artists - should never be undervalued”.

People turn to classical music for emotion, mindfulness, and connection

“It is truly heartening to see how much classical music matters to the British public”, says ABO’s Chair Sophie Lewis.

Classical music is listened to in a variety of settings: concert halls, on the radio, streaming, and the survey recognises a multitude of emotional responses that respondents felt whilst listening to the music.

The most common words were relaxing (37%), timeless (36%), powerful (36%) and emotional (33%).

It is truly heartening to see how much classical music matters to the British public

The survey also revealed that seven in ten of UK adults believe music is an important part of their wellbeing.

With many orchestras and ensembles carrying out performances in health and social care settings, they make a vital contribution to the nation’s wellbeing by enabling anyone to connect with the arts and experience live music performances.

Orchestras, musicians and composers should never be undervalued

MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl says “The MU is delighted to support the ABO’s campaign, which will shine a light on the exciting and evolving work of orchestras and orchestral musicians across the UK.

“We know the vital role that our musicians play in the nation’s cultural landscape and how they also feature in our most precious personal moments.

“Audiences and music fans of all ages engage with classical music in diverse and surprising ways, and we look forward to supporting the ABO in showcasing this through their campaign.”

How to get involved

The three-year-long campaign begins by inviting the British public to show their support for UK orchestras by sharing a piece of classical music on social media that has moved them with the hashtag #MusicThatMovesYou.

“We want to start a conversation open to everyone - both enthusiasts and casual listeners of classical music - to introduce one another to the music that moves them”, explains Sophie Lewis. 

Sign the petition to protect Welsh National Opera

Musicians at Welsh National Opera (WNO) orchestra are campaigning to keep the orchestra full time and secure the company’s future.

Due to funding cuts from Arts Council of Wales and Arts Council England, WNO management are being forced to consider making the orchestra part time and cutting musicians' pay by 15%.

WNO will also have to cut down on touring, which risks leaving towns and cities like Llandudno and Bristol without the high-quality opera provision they deserve.

Over 9,000 people have signed a petition in support.

Sign the petition

Have you already signed the petition?

Protect Welsh National Opera! Diogelu Opera Cenedlaethol Cymru!

Arts Council of Wales and Arts Council England funding cuts are putting the future of Welsh National Opera (WNO) at risk.

Mae toriadau ariannol gan Gyngor Celfyddydau Cymru ac Arts Council England yn fygythiad i ddyfodol Opera Cenedlaethol Cymru.

These cuts must not be allowed to happen on our watch.

Protect WNO

Rhaid i’r toriadau hyn beidio â digwydd tra ein bod ni wrth y llyw.

Diogelu WNO

Protect Welsh National Opera! Diogelu Opera Cenedlaethol Cymru!

Continue reading

A violinist playing as part of a live orchestra performance.

MU, BLiM and ABO Launch Landmark Agreement to Diversify UK Orchestras

The MU has partnered with Black Lives in Music (BLiM) and the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) to launch the 10 Point Orchestral Plan. The plan will enhance opportunities for all orchestral musicians across the UK, driving change for more inclusive recruitment.

Published: 30 April 2024

Read more about MU, BLiM and ABO Launch Landmark Agreement to Diversify UK Orchestras