Galas sometimes attract those unschooled in symphonic protocol, so I wasn’t surprised to hear some applause between movements. And Perlman and company should be used to such a reaction. While I appreciate the chance to silently soak in the completion of a movement and hear the purity of the beginning of the next, well, if an audience is inspired to show its appreciation for a performance, who am I to suggest that others restrain themselves?
What I found bothersome was the tittering that followed the applause. I couldn’t help but feel that some audience members were afraid that the great Perlman would think that we were a bunch of yokels for violating this rule of musical etiquette. (Perlman turned and made comments about it during a break, but I wasn’t in a position to hear what he said.)
Ultimately, the will-they-or-won’t-they hurt but didn’t ruin a strong musical evening.
As usual, a read of Marianne Williams Tobias’ excellent program notes was instructive. In writing about the Dvorak, she said, “The symphony was an instant success, both in America and Europe. At the New York premiere, December 16, 1893, applause followed every movement.”
I do think it’s even more annoying to deal with the shushing, uncomfortable laughter, or haughty sniffling that seems to happen when the between-the-movements applause occurs. Can’t we all just lighten up a little and relax?
I read it here.
I remember hearing someone make some noise at a concert once and the shushing by others was worse than the initial noise. Silly, eh?
(Yes, I’ve posted a lot today. Call it Gypsy Airs procrastination, if you will; I have to work on Kodaly and Dohnanyi and for some reason I keep hesitating. But no longer … off I go!)
I should also mention that none of the musicians was on stage until it was time to perform when they all filed out together. This is common practice among European orchestras but in Chicago the musicians always come out individually and practice. Muti had asked them to try it this way, and although they didn’t like the change, they did it for Muti.
Unfortunately, in San Francisco, making noise endlessly before the concert and in the intervals between performances — even for the long stretches of time when the piano is brought up to the stage — is the unfortunate custom.
The italicized paragraph above is from an audience member at the Chicago Symphony concert. the remaining paragraph is from Mr. Gereben.
I read it here.
I would love to talk to the European players about this “common practice”. I wonder if they enjoy it. I like to see what my reeds have decided to do prior to the start of a concert. They are constantly changing, as is, I’m sorry to say, the temperature on the stage or in the pit at the California. (By the way, I’m not “practicing” … I’m warming up, and checking the instruments and reeds. It’s really far too late to practice at that point!) Without getting to test anything out at all I suspect I’d be a wreck. But perhaps these musicians in Europe are very used to starting in silence, and it’s possible that they think we are total wimps. (I do wish we would all warm up a bit more quietly; the noise level prior to the start of a concert is sometimes rather painful.)
Decided I can’t even afford to WANT to play bassoon – they cost, like, HALF A CAR. Seriously. Student grade oboe is a closer possibility at a mere $800 and around $30 per reed…
In case some of you are living under a rock or in a cave, I thought I should at least write a short blog entry about Detroit Symphony. As of yesterday the musicians have been on strike. A strike is serious business. Musicians don’t just strike for fun, and it’s a scary time for all. There are plenty of articles about the issue, and Drew McManus has been blogging quite a bit about the symphony at his music business blog. (Go here for all his Detroit entries.)
Orchestra strikes are tricky issues; there are so many people — perhaps the majority? — who are baffled that we get paid at all. Many think we should get “real jobs” and “play” on the side. I don’t know all the issues with Detroit. I do know the city is in deep trouble. I know the musicians were asked to take a 29% pay cut over three years, and add more services to the contract (services are what we call each rehearsal or concert). It appears that newcomers to the orchestra would be paid less, as would subs. (Having experienced a tiered system, I know it causes all sorts of bad feelings.) The orchestra came back with an offer of starting with a 22% pay cut but ending up at an 8% pay cut in the final year. If you visit the musicians’ site you can read about their interpretation of the proposals. Of course management will have a different take on the whole thing. It’s always fascinating to hear the different interpretations.
In any case, I wish the Detroit Symphony and the Detroit Symphony Musicians well. I suffered the death of a symphony not even close to this full time symphony; I had been in San Jose Symphony for 27 years when it died. It was a horrible experience. I do hope Detroit will fare better.
whoopsies, broke my oboe reed. :c oh well, I have another one.
(Just one other one?!)
Trio D’Anches De Cologne
If you read this, “She [the conductor] coaxed a gorgeous English horn solo from [English hornist's name] in the second, slow movement” … how would you take it?
To me it implies that the player would not be able to play gorgeously without some help. As if we need that from a conductor. But maybe I over react to reviews.
… oh, and this isn’t about me, by the way. In case you thought I was being defensive or something. :-)