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An unhappy customer

0 Robert Levine

A left-leaning political blogger in Philadelphia, age 37, is not happy with his concert-going experience:

I go to about half a dozen concerts per year, and the problems the orchestra faces are pretty obvious to me. Their marketing is horrible, their ushers and ticket sellers treat people like crap (not all, of course, but many), especially people who are there with discount tickets (I’m a subscriber, but since I usually have a self printed ticket they think it’s a discounted ticket), and the facility is completely unwelcoming to people.

Which ties neatly into the thesis of this post:

The acknowledged culture of classical music doesn’t tell us why so few orchestral musicians smile at the audience, or even make eye contact before or after the music-making. It doesn’t tell us why musicians dress in black tie or somewhat less formal black-and-white business attire. It doesn’t quite explain why on-air hosts at classical stations seem to put such a high premium on elegant, self-consciously correct diction, even when they’re reading advertisements for a rug shop, nor why words and phrases in languages other than English play such a big role in today’s classical music experience. It doesn’t explain why classical concertgoers who are already sitting in their seats when I come down the row to find my own seat are almost uniformly curt about having to let me past and far less likely (in my unscientific sampling) than other kinds of audiences—film, popular music, theater—to smile and engage in the little phrases and conversations that grease the social interactions of strangers. Nor does it tell us why that audience should be so stubbornly white, with African Americans and other minorities underrepresented even when we control for education and income.

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