As a symphony orchestra conductor who grew up cracking sunflower seeds as he watched opera, Jindong has a unique perspective. His view is that it’s fine to applaud between movements if the audience is so moved – he appreciates the enthusiasm and does not think anyone should be made to feel foolish for clapping at the “wrong” time. He also believes in some interaction between audience and performers – indeed, he often addresses the audience before a concert. But, he draws the line at eating and talking, because he feels it distracts from the artistry of a performance.
Perhaps it is time for a reconsideration of classical music audience etiquette. Instead of exporting musical snobbery along with symphonic orchestras, we should import spontaneity and enthusiasm – but draw the line at eating sausages and dried squid.
If you DO read the whole thing, you’ll see this article is in reaction to a lecture given by Anatole Leikin, at the Reactions to the Record symposium. That’s the event at which I recently performed, doing the Reinecke with Anatole and Susan Vollmer.
Now regarding applause … I’ve written about it before. Maybe I’ll finally give up. It’s more of the “same old, same old” to me. And I think it’s a mistake if anyone believes that getting rid of certain things will suddenly make my particular genre of music popular. We are not a popular music. Applause between movements can be, I think, just fine. Up to a point. If it’s spontaneous and genuine and truly unavoidable, then I say go for it. But sometimes it’s forced. I thought, at our performance, it was forced because the audience was told beforehand that they could applaud and, in fact, we would like them to. What could they do after that? I knew a few people who attended the concert and not one of them said a word to me after about enjoying the performance nor did they blog about liking it. Silence speaks pretty darn loudly, and I am assuming they were not impressed by the performance. So that applause was, I’m guessing, all about being told what to do. Ah well ….
But really, all the etiquette tossing we can do isn’t going to magically change things overnight. At least I don’t believe so.
Education might help. Lower prices might help. Playing in different venues is a good idea, and can be used to gain new ears. I still say, though, that what we do will never gain the Lady Gaga crowds.
I suspect, though, that the music I play will be played fifty years from now. I honestly don’t know if Lady G’s still will be. It’s just that way this stuff works.