Concert hall provides tweeting corner for restless thumbs

Concert hall provides tweeting corner for restless thumbs


norman lebrecht

November 27, 2011

I suspect that 2011 will go down as a turning point in concert etiquette. What goes on in the hall is no longer confined to those who sit in it – as we have seen several times with demonstrators and disrupters in the hall and substitutions and childbirths from the backstage. Anyone can tweet from anywhere and it’s about time concert organisations got to grips with that reality, like it or not.

A new etiquette is coming to being to replace the old, and Cincinnati is the first to recognise its relevance. As Janelle Gelfand reports here, the orchestra has set aside a corner of the hall for those who wish to communicate during a concert. Seems pretty civilised to me.

Amanda Fischer, from left, Justin Wermes, and his brother, Trey Wermes, tweet during a Cincinnati Symphony Orches­tra performance in Cincinnati on Nov. 16.

photo: AP


  • Hurrah! A great innovation and recognition of the importance of social media in transmitting instant responses to the concert experience. I often tweet in the interval (though there is no signal in the Bechstein Room at the Wigmore) and I feel that an off-the-cuff response to what one is hearing can have more value than a review published three days after the event in a broadsheet. I also love exchange tweets with fellow concert-goers immediately after the event – and musicians value the instant feedback too.

    • Tonyztuba says:

      Yes! I often have the flip cam rolling as well so I can immediately post concert stats (missed notes, etc.) with video so that the people that stayed home and missed the concert experience will realize that they didn’t miss much anyhow. It is an incredibly great gift that I and so many others can multi-task so well as to be able to concentrate on something as sublime and mentally engaging as classical music, and text/video at the same time! Hooray for us!

  • Istvan Horthy says:

    It’s a funny world where twits of the most inane vacuity spend their time passing on their shallow “thoughts” to other twits of a kind!

  • ariel says:

    The observation by Mr. Lebrecht is sadly correct – but to call it an” innovation” is not knowing history . That
    this “new etiquette ” speaks volumes about the audience in Cincinnati goes without saying and brings to mind
    the type of audience that speak to ” movie screens”. It is the dumbing down to the lowest level to fill seats .
    As for the off-the-cuff response nonsense – the opera houses are a pathetic prime example where a certain
    segments can’t wait to scream their off-the- cuff “bravas” usually at the wrong moment. That the air heads can’t
    wait for some few minutes after a concert to tweet their opinions is sadly pathetic . It might give them time to reflect
    on what they heard if they “heard” anything at all .

  • alan williams says:

    I was at the LBT in Huddersfield recently for Turnage’s Greek when a bloke I sat next to took a photo during the performance with his phone. No problem for me, he was entirely silent and fairly unobtrusive, and he only took one shot. Then I was amazed when a party of other folk remonstrated with him for distracting them with hid phone. The guy was there because his girlfriend was in the ensemble, and clearly was new to opera and/or contemporary music. I’m sure he now thinks that the absurd formality insisted on by the behaviour police is evidence of classical music’s being out of touch with contemporary culture. It is apparently ok, though, to cough lustily through every silence, whether between movements or not. Give me tweeting any day.

  • Oliver K says:

    Four against two…isn’t it ironic who comes across as twits?!?!

    Out of touch with technology and a ‘Gray, pale and stale’ crowd is exactly why “classical” music struggles to reach out to a younger audience. With exciting new works such as Anna Nicole bringing some contemporary joy to the stage, it hopes to open the minds of the next generation of opera lover. Social media is here to stay and those who embrace it will only set to benefit, of course managed in the right way. See it as an opportunity.

    Feel free to follow me on Twitter. We may share similar thoughts and ideas or simply share something. Life may be more interesting if we open up a little. Of course, if twitter isn’t your thing, don’t!! After all, you do have a choice!

    My fear is that some people have simply missed the point…


    • ariel says:

      Yes Oliver K ” social media ” is here to stay as are” the tweeter twits ” Yes you have missed the point .
      Instead of reaching out to younger audience perhaps you should teach or help them to” aspire” to something
      better in their dreary self centered lives rather than bring everything down to their level of self
      absorbed instant gratification of “how I feel “. Classical ” music is not struggling to reach the younger crowd
      it is the business end that plays that game and if the yahoos of the world have taken over with their tweeters
      so be it . Nothing lasts …. including tweeters .

  • I don’t own a cell phone, never have and hope to avoid it permanently. I’ve also never walked into a Walmart store (which I apparently can’t spell either: Wallmaart?, Wallmart?). This reminds me of a video short they had on freespeech TV where you saw pigeons pecking at a cell phone placed in the middle of the Town Square (the place they used to sell bags of feed for the pigions as in the song Tuppence a Bag from Mary Poppins). In the clever video, you just heard the space age technology of the phone respond to the pecking by going round and round the menu of some business’s automatic answering machine saying: “I didn’t quite get that, did you say Howard?”,” I didn’t quite get that let’s try that again.”

  • Ziggy says:

    A tweeting corner! Excellent idea! At the last 2 ENO events I’ve been to, people playing with their screens during the operas have proved most distracting. Lest I seem some wasp-ish fogey, I have a smartphone, & do tweet – but I turn the thing firmly OFF when attending music events.