Vanessa Thorpe reports on classical music:

To many, the decision announced last week to launch Scala Radio, a major new station founded on the belief that classical music can appeal to younger audiences, will have come as a surprise. But research has shown clear indications of new listening trends, with almost half (45%) of young people saying they see classical music as an escape from the noise of modern life.

The new digital radio station will have DJ Simon Mayo at the forefront of its presenting team when it launches in March. Mayo, who left BBC Radio 2 last year, will be joined at Scala by the unorthodox orchestral music lover Goldie and Observer film critic Mark Kermode, who will play many of his favourite film scores.

The launch of a new classical entertainment station aimed at younger listeners is based on more than a hunch. Research found that a new generation of listeners was switching on to classical music through different sources, with 48% of under-35s exposed to it through classical versions of popular songs, such as the Brooklyn Duo version of Taylor Swift’s Blank. And 74% of people in the same age group had experienced classical music via a live orchestral performance at a film screening, according to analysts at Insight working for Bauer Media, owner of the new station. …

Jack Pepper, Britain’s youngest commissioned composer, will also be joining Scala. The 19-year-old said: “Classical music is surrounded by the misconception that it’s irrelevant, sterile and inaccessible. … the classical masters have shocking, entertaining, humorous and sometimes tragic life stories. A classical composer is a normal human being with the same ups and downs we can all relate to.”

The growing popularity of classical music among young people follows recent survey results highlighting young people’s use of art galleries and museums as sanctuaries and figures released last week showing rising sales of poetry among younger readers.

Commercial/pop music has become so pervasive that it might not be a stretch to think of contemporary classical music as a new alternative genre. In other words, what makes music “classical” is so generally foreign today that it’s functionally new.