More concert disturbances

More concert disturbances


norman lebrecht

January 28, 2010

What people can and cannot do during a concert came up this morning on the BBC’s Today programme, according to a respondent to my previous posting:

A similar theme was taken up by (Vladimir) Jurowski on this morning’s “Today” programme on R4. Audiences at the OAE’s(Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment) Roundhouse gigs should be allowed to drink beer and eat crisps, apparently.

I’m all for a relaxation, but crisps? Honestly… Still, I would rather depend on the decency of my neighbour not to rustle & crunch than be told hat to do by an officious theatre or concert hall, I agree. Mind, they could just be clever and not sell crisps at the bar.

One of the best comments was from one of the two players interviewed, who commented (I paraphrase loosely) that audience members should be able to do what they like – once they are there, it’s the performer’s responsibility to make the performance so engaging, so musically thrilling, that the audience are compelled to listen.

The real difficulty, I guess, is getting bums on seats on the first place; once we can get them in the concert hall, it’s the artists job to make them want to come back again. Sadly I’ve seen all too-many concerts where the players frankly can’t be bothered. That’s not going to encourage repeat visits.

Myself, I’m less pessimistic. True, every time I see the NY Philharmonic and some of the stuffier German orchestras, my heart sinks back into my boots at the display of antediluvian attitudes. But players in many other orchestras are changing their tune in terms of how they relate to an audience. The tone of the London Symphony Orchestra’s blog is just one of these new forms of engagement. I find them greatly encouraging. And you?