I'm thinking of tweeting the BBC Proms

I'm thinking of tweeting the BBC Proms


norman lebrecht

May 24, 2011

Not in the Royal Albert Hall, of course. Except in intervals.

But if I’m watching a concert on telly at home and it has failed to grip my ear or has thrown up an incident of general interest, why should I or anyone else wait for the time delay of a newspaper review to describe what happened? If it worked in the Royal Wedding, why not the Proms?

It is surely high time for the concert world to adjust to social media?

In the June issue of The Strad I raise the question of musicians tweeting during a performance:

String players are likely to have their fingers occupied most of the time, but the piccolo has long periods of staring at ceiling and the percussion can go half an hour without a bash. Would we mind it awfully if they tweeted the world that maestro X was playing a blinder, or that he was lagging as usual two pages behind the band? Music, we keep getting told, must adjust to the modern age. That includes social media and instant communication. So – yes or no – should we tweet in concerts?

What do you think?



  • Excellent idea. As I have said before, I love the idea of an “instant response” to a concert, and so long as it’s not disturbing anyone, why not? My “interval tweet” from the Wigmore last night was very much a gut-reaction to the beautiful and measured performance I had just heard. Equally, if it was rubbish, I would have felt bound to comment as well…..

    The blogosphere and Twitter are undoubtedly the way forward for music reviewing, and will, I hope, one day surpass and maybe even supplant traditional, old skool reviewing. I think the vast majority of concert-goers, and prospective concert-goers, would far rather read a spontaneous review.

    I would also enjoy tweets from the orchestra, provided it did not cause the piccolo player to miss a crucial entrance! Admittedly, the piano soloist might raise a few eyebrows if he were to start Tweeting during the rests of Beethoven’s Emperor (not much opportunity in the Rach 3!).

    BTW, I loved your Royal Wedding commentary – it quite made my day. I will have to forego Charles on Parry on Friday as I am entertaining, but I hope you will offer some amusing insights for me to reply to when I do watch the programme……!

  • Just as you shouldn’t tweet during a drama, it would be unthinkable to tweet while attending a concert since it takes you “out of the moment” and disturb your fellow audience members (Yes, it would!!) . HOWEVER tweeting while listening to Radio 3 when you are in the privacy of your own space is surely acceptable. We are requested to switch off all mobile devises when joining other audience members at the beginning of a performance. If people started tweeting, it won’t be long before we will need to leave our phones at the door..

  • Marie Lamb says:

    I should join CrossEyedPianist and thank you for your Royal Wedding comments on Twitter, which I also followed while seeing the ceremony on CNN. They were hilarious, but also very informative for this American. If there’s a way to tweet for the Proms and other events without causing a disturbance, such as while watching or listening at home, then I say go for it!

  • Petros LInardos says:

    I am firmly against tweeting, except perhaps for concert intermissions.

    Tweeting in the middle of listening makes as much sense as tweeting in the middle of reading. You are either reading/listening or not reading/listening.

    While listening at home, if the music is not worthwhile, why not turn it off?

    At a boring concert, either sit it out, or leave. Tweeting can seriously interfere with other serious listeners in the audience.

    As for orchestral musicians with long pauses, would tweeting cultivate a sense of community with the more hard working players?

  • Dafydd Llywelyn. Composer in Munich. says:

    You talk about “instant response”.& “time delay of a newspaper”.My immediate thoughts which come to mind are instant Coffee (perhaps to wake up through going to under & badly rehearsed mediocre Commercial Concerts of Conventional Boredom on ones own free will, repeatedly night after night by bored mediocre performers with more often than not, very average talents,attended by a boring & singularly bored Public. ? Or have i missunderstood you all ? If i get bored & frustrated in such concerts here in Munich i generally fall asleep & snore Out of Rhythm, thus adding a few extra Polyrhythmic elements , & ultrapolyphonic upper partial tones to the Performance,causing great glee,joy & amusement to my friends & fellow Colleagues,& deep embarassment to my wife,& anger by some members of the public especially by those (mainly women strangely enough), whose Mobile Telephones contiually ringing also adding to the overall polyphony with their various different Musack Tunes, not forgetting of course their continual chatterboxing comments during the Concert ,adding an element of ” Sprech Gesang” to boot, & of course Reminding us that we are not only in a Concert Hall Sanatorium for Terminal Lung Cancer Patients through their constant undisiplined coughing perfomances mainly in the Quietest moments of the Music of course,but prooving that we are in a” Home for the Bewildered ” & in a retreat for the” Theatre of Absurdity.” By all means twitter ye & SMS. but please during the pause in the smallest & quietest room in the Hall id est, the W C. It adds elements to the delightfull or as you will,disgusting smells caused by Instant fast food no doubt. Alfred Brendel during the slow movement of a Schubert sonata here in Munich,was so disturbed as many of us were by the above ” Extra Musical Noises & Disturbances”, he just couldn’t continue ,& left the Stage explaining first to the Audience about the principals of Music & Silence. Thus under friendly persuasion from the Intendant, returning to the stage half an hour later playing the complete Sonata again.From that time onwards at every entrance to the Hall were large containers of thousands of cough sweets wrapped in noiseless paper made available without cost to the public,untill they learnt to bring their own with them.

  • The value of instantly tweeted opinions seems dubious to me. You might be winning the reaction race, but whose keeping score? Not me. There’s more to be said about a concert than can be typed up in 140 characters and I’d rather wait until the next day for a more considered reaction than find out right this instant.

  • I think tweeting discreetly between pieces or in intervals is absolutely fine.Some journalists bring their notepad and write down comments during the concerts, others read the program notes. I dont think we should be that strict on concert behaviour or reactions as long as it is not interrupting the artists. So no ringtones, no bright lights (i actually turn my phone low on brightness) then i think it is absolutely fine 🙂