The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Should concert halls be noisier and livelier or quieter and more attentive to attract bigger and younger audiences to classical music? The argument grows. | June 16, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

One urgent question continues to loom at the center of the classical music world: How do performers and presenters attract more audiences and young audiences to live music?

One answer is to emphasize new music.

Another and opposing answer is to emphasize tried-and-true old masterpieces.

One answer is to use more non-traditional venues such as coffee houses (below), bars, churches, open-air markets, the street, parks and workplaces — much like the local groups Classical Revolution (bel0w) and New Muse (New Music Everywhere) do.

But there are still people who are unabashed in their love of the concert hall as the appropriate place to hear classical music.

However, even those partisans can’t agree on what makes for a great concert hall experience.

Recently, one observer wrote that concert halls need to be noisier and more raucous, more filled with cheers and yells, with life and excitement – much like I have written about what I find when I go to concerts by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (photo below):

http://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/classical-music-the-best-audiences-in-town-and-hundreds-of-talented-young-musicians-will-be-in-the-spotlight-at-sundays-concerts-by-the-wisconsin-youth-symphony-orchestras/

Here is a link to the nationally distributed and controversial  story  — which drew a lot of comments – by Richard Dare on The Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-dare/classical-music-concerts_b_1525896.html

But recently a story in the New York Times took issue with that approach and argued, though several sources, that a focused and attentive silence is the more appropriate response inside the concert hall.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/09/arts/music/cheers-and-claps-at-classical-performances.html

The Ear tends to think that no matter what side you take, it all depends on the circumstances and the music. It is similar to how some music, say a concerto, lends itself to applause between movements – and many soloist especially would like to see more of that – while applause could ruin the mood of other works, say a Mahler symphony or a Requiem.

Which side do you take – noisier or quieter concert halls?

The Ear wants to hear.

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4 Comments »

  1. [...] Classical music news: Should concert halls be noisier and livelier or quieter and more attentive to … (welltempered.wordpress.com) 40.714353 -74.005973 Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Written by tuxedorevoltblog Posted in Inspiration, Music, Performance Tagged with Arts, Chris Guillebeau, Classical music, Concert, Music, Performing arts [...]

    Pingback by Build (a theme park) and They Will Come « Tuxedo Revolt Blog — August 16, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

  2. Call me an old fogey, but when I pay to hear good, serious, classical repertoire, I prefer it quiet during performance. Afterward, the bravos are fine, but between movements is inappropriate and has the potential to disrupt a concerto soloist’s memory even, the last thing they need. As much as I admire the MSO & John DeMain, I don’t need lengthy speeches prior to performances either. With 2.5 music degrees, I probably know enough about what’s being played that I don’t need or want a speech about it. And even if I don’t, if the music is well written and well performed, that’s more than enough for me.

    Comment by Larry Retzack — June 16, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

  3. It may be possible to enjoy music despite extranous sound, but it’s not possible to actually listen to and understand great music without giving it one’s full attention. Perhaps this needn’t be an either/or question: Bring people to enjoy it in an informal setting, but ensure there remain places where one can move beyond simple enjoyment to experience music’s transformative power.

    Comment by Susan Fiore — June 16, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

  4. This is an important issue, I’m on the side of reacting when the music calls for it. E.g. just last night in Mills Hall with the MAYCO talents in some thrilling traversals of Fauré, Verdi, Puccini, Copland (I had to miss the Haydn), the audience was clearly moved by the evident talent and dedication on display to applaud and shout. And there’s something about opera that helps bring out the bravos, in this case for the well-judged, vividly beautiful singing of soprano soloist Shannon Prickett.
    Just a few weeks ago, MSO audiences cheered the all-Gershwin program: a sure winner with soprano and baritone soloists in scenes from Porgy and Bess, some fine pianism with the Rhapsody in Blue, and other favorites. It helped that John DeMain gave an engaging narrative about the music. So if the occasion seems special, why not show sincere appreciation — in some appropriate, respectful way.

    Comment by Dan Shea — June 16, 2012 @ 12:22 pm


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