17. February 2005 · Comments Off on Audience Manners · Categories: imported, Ramble

I’m reading a bunch of different blogs that are talking about whether audience members should boo, why there’s so much fuss about applauding between movements, and other issues regarding the audience.

I guess I’ll chime in. After all, I’m one who deals with all this on a frequent basis.

First of all, most of the bloggers seem to think that applauding between movements is just fine as long as the performance warrants it. I’m not in full agreement. To me it really depends upon the work. Some movements call for total silence when they are completed, in my little opinion. Some movements lead so perfectly to the next that I really hate the disruption. And sometimes, if I have a solo in the following movement, I’m startled by the applause. BUT (I always have a “but clause”) sometimes the applause is a blessing; I can “test” a few of my notes! This is more often the case with English horn. There are times when the only notes I am to play are a very exposed solo. That can put me in major stressland, so the “note test” is kind of nice.

As to booing. Hmmm. The only time I’ve ever experienced a huge amount of booing was back in the San Jose Symphony’s (RIP) 1975-76 season. We had American composers come in for almost every set. The list included Hovhannes, Copland, Chavez … and John Cage. Cage sure set the audience off. We played music that was a sort of “do what you want or don’t do anything at all” work. Cage acted as a “clock conductor”; he kept time just like the minute hand of a clock (I admired the strength he had to keep his arm so steady.) The audience went berserk. The booing actually frightened me a bit. Cage looked as if he was loving it. I think what he enjoyed was audience involvement, and that he certainly got.

Other than that, I’ve not heard booing. Sometimes I feel like booing (not recently, fortunately). A lot. Sometimes I feel like standing up and telling the audience “This is a horrible performance. Please don’t applaud.” The crazy thing is that those are often the performances at which the audience gives a standing O and the reviews are good. Go figure. There was one (Pops) performance I found particularly embarrassing, and as I was walking to the car I overheard a patron saying “Now THAT was a good concert! The symphony should do this kind of concert all the time!” Sigh. That’s when I wrote my poem Services Rendered.

Other blogs talking about these things (some of these will take you directly to the specific write-up, and others to the general blog page):
Iron Tongue of Midnight
Marcus Maroney – Sounds Like New
Alex Ross: The Rest if Noise
Greg Sandow’s blog
Sounds & Fury

Anyway, there are a few of my thoughts. More to follow, I’m betting. But for now it’s time to stop rambling.

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