Incoming WA Symphony Orchestra principal conductor Asher Fisch has launched his 2014 season, highlighted by a Beethoven Festival, and said the concert format needed to be changed because it had become stagnant.
Orchestras must overhaul programming to cater for changing audience tastes, said the 55-year-old Israeli maestro, who takes over from Englishman Paul Daniel at the end of this year.
"The symphonic concert world is in trouble," Fisch said. "Everybody is losing audiences and it is everywhere from Chicago to Paris to Berlin."
WASO audiences have so far bucked the trend, with Concert Hall attendances steady in the past five years and a strong growth in family subscriptions.
Beethoven will dominate the WASO season with a two-weekend festival devoted to all nine of his symphonies next August.
Unlike opera, which was always being regenerated by new singers, inventive staging and fresh interpretations, classical concerts were stuck in a variation of the overture-concerto and symphony format, Fisch said.
"You go back over and over again to hear the same things," he said. "It has become stale."
The Beethoven Festival was a response to increasing appetite by audiences around the world for special-event programming, such as festivals.
Fisch is in Perth for the 2014 season launch and to conduct the WASO this weekend.