Well hello again, after more than a year. Although there is no excuse for my lack of blogging, this has been a busy year for me. I recently finished my senior year in high school and will soon be attending Dartmouth College to study music (amongst other things). I hope that I will be able to continue blogging well into, and well past my college years.
A few weeks ago, I decided to make yet another leap across that perilous chasm of musical ignorance; I attended the ballet yet again. Much to my own surprise, I absolutely loved it. However, I will explore that experience in a future post. The point of this particular article is to remark on something I discovered in my Playbill pamphlet that night. It was a page written by Paul Volpe, entitled Concert Etiquette. Recall what I wrote in my very first post… read your program! There is simply no limit to the amount of priceless information that can usually be found in your concert pamphlet. I was so impressed by Volpe’s eloquently written article, that I brought it home. Now, I am bringing it to ClassicalEar.com so that Volpe’s words can be read across the globe.
Writer Paul Volpe takes a satirical look at audience conduct
I shall spare you the lengthy rant about the obvious blight of ringing cell phones or the agony of late arrivals stepping on our toes or that awkward moment when you find your orchestra seats being warmed by sheepish looking third balcony hopefuls. That said, let’s review the more obscure yet heinous crimes that might send us fleeing back to our home surround-sound and plasma-screen systems, and far from live performances that require us to be a part of a civilized communal experience.
Gentlemen, if you must snore, make sure your companion has sharp elbows.
Fanny packs are never an acceptable “Performing Arts” accouterment, save it for the mall.
Humming is a crime that is almost forgivable as it’s committed unconsciously. Still, never, ever, hum along with the music - the musicians really don’t need your help.
Never leave a performance before intermission, unless you are injured and bleeding profusely. While you may be “bloody bored,” those around you are not.
Refrain from leaping to one’s feet, zealously clapping and shouting “Bravo,” while the rest of us are still waiting to hear the last glorious notes of the aria.
Dress Appropriately. We all know that casual attire is encouraged these days, but let’s keep casual from becoming catastrophic. Shorts and a tank top might be appropriate in Branson, Missouri, the home of country music, but not in Avery Fisher Hall, the Home of the New York Philharmonic. We must keep the concert halls alive by our patronage for the next generation. As a young man I would attend such transporting musical evenings wearing a borrowed jacket and dress pants purchased from the Salvation Army. I made an effort despite my “standing room” or “student ticket” status and rose to the occasion on limited funds while showing respect for the performers and fellow audience members.
There is not substitute for a live performance, whether it is ballet, classical, jazz or soul. Miss Aretha Franklin demands, and gets, what she literally spells out for us - R-E-S-P-E-C-T. And that’s what other audience members and the performers on stage deserve from all of us.
By Paul Volpe
“Wow!” was my first impression. Volpe simply says it all, on a single sheet of the pamphlet. Truthfully, I was glowing as I read this article. In my opinion, everyone should read this article before seeing a performance. However, there are some things that I would care to remark upon.
First, and most important, you must never be scared to attend a concert. Although this article is a must-read, you must never feel as if you are putting on a show for the rest of the audience members. You mustn’t try to impress anyone, you must simply exhibit basic respect and courtesy to your fellow audience members. Therefore, Volpe’s list is not a strict code of law that is punishable by death, but rather, it is a list of suggested courtesies that is punishable by mild shame, at the worst. No need to put on airs, or a tuxedo. Simply show some common respect for the person sitting next to you.
Second, I wanted to comment on what Volpe said about humming. Unfortunately, I have often had the bad fortune of sitting next to a hummer. However, contrary to Volpe’s opinion on the matter, I consider humming to be as unforgivable as snoring or tapping your foot. It is not the audience’s job to produce noise - that’s what musicians are for. Even if said noise is being produced unconsciously it is the audience’s responsibility to ensure that the noise is stopped. Therefore, if the person next to you is unconsciously tapping his foot, it is your responsibility to politely ask him to stop. Unconscious disruptions are just as disruptive as conscious disruptions.
In reference to Volpe’s fourth point, concerning premature evacuation, I would like to mention a quote from Anthony Thomasini, a music critic for the New York Times. He said, “Leaving a concert before the end is much like leaving a wedding before the ‘I-do’s’.” Even if you are not enjoying a particular concert, you should stay until it is over. First, the performance could always get better! Second, the performers put in countless hours of hard work in order to entertain you, so staying in your seat for another hour is the least you can do to show your appreciation. Third, you paid for these seats, so why waste money? Fourth, what have you got to lose? Staying put will not do any permanent damage to your ears. I promise.
Last, I would like to underscore Volpe’s fifth point. DO NOT BEGIN CLAPPING UNTIL THE SONG IS UTTERLY AND COMPLETELY OVER. In fact, allow me to be more specific. At a concert where the conductor is visible, DO NOT BEGIN CLAPPING UNTIL THE CONDUCTOR LOWERS HIS BATON. The conductor is the one who decides when the piece is over, not you. At an opera, you should be able to tell when a particular song is over. But remember that sometimes, a song will end with the orchestra, not with the singer. You might be asking yourself why I’m being such a jerk about this particular point. Here’s why: the last moments of a piece are often the most meaningful. The following link will show you a YouTube video of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen playing Valse Triste by Jean Sibelius. The conductor’s name is Paavo Järvi. Watch how Järvi ends the piece: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9t0FBQ3xeVA&feature=related.
Excellent job, Mr. Volpe. I sincerely hope that your message is heard by concertgoers worldwide.Tags: album, ballet, baroque, best classical music, cd, classical, classical music, classical music cds, classical music composer, classical music Mozart, classical music online, classical piano music, composers, concert, concert etiquette, etiquette, General, instrument, met opera, metropolitan opera, music, opera, opera house, opera singers, piano, reviews, volpe