I’m still pondering the whole applause thing.
If we begin to applaud between movements, might we eventually applaud during movements? But if we did end up there our performances would become much like jazz concerts. (Okay, I’m probably stretching this a bit by suggesting folks would applaud while we’re playing, but I like stretching.) And this is what hit me: I really hate applauding for the solos when I hear live jazz. I find it disruptive. So maybe it’s a personality thing. Maybe some of us don’t really want to applaud all that much.
Or are we attempting to appeal to those who like rock concerts? In that case maybe we should nix the chairs, and let everyone mill about and talk during the concerts. (The advantage there would be that I would never get nervous! Hmmm. There’s a thought.)
Music etiquette is such a bizarre thing, really. In opera the audience applauds after certain arias. They sometimes applaud when the curtain rises (I’m assuming it’s because they love the set), and of course they applaud at the end of each act. But sometimes they applaud after an entr’acte and sometimes they don’t. We sometimes have a claque in the audience and she’ll clue in the audience if they aren’t on top of things, but when she’s not there the applause points can vary greatly.
In ballet the audience will applaud when a dancer does something nifty. And they applaud when each dance number is over. And they applaud at the end of the entire ballet. At least most of the time that’s how it goes.
So ballet and opera audiences get to applaud a whole lot more than a symphony audience. Maybe the symphony audiences are just envious and want to put their hands together more often.
Me? I love music that moves me. But I especially like the music that moves me to the point of silence. Or even of falling to my knees. I like music that knocks me out, to be honest. And it doesn’t make me want to applaud. It makes me want to be quiet.
So there you go. I’m just not one to applaud a lot. Go figure.
Drew McManus wrote:
If you didn’t like a particular player’s solo within a piece but the rest of the work was excellent, then stop applauding immediately when the conductor acknowledges the soloist (don’t worry, they have a thick skin – they wouldn’t have gotten to where they are without it).
I’m going to have to disagree with this. Some of the most insecure people I’ve ever met are professional musicians! I’m not just talking “B” orchestras, either. Even those who come across as arrogant are sometimes found to be as insecure as the rest of us once you get to know them.
Just so you know.
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.