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How not to make audiences feel

2 Robert Levine

I know that audiences can be annoying, and clueless, and distracting, and all the rest - but come on, folks:

I just have to write a letter concerning the recent performance of the Abilene Philharmonic.

Abilenians are a welcoming group who are quick to applaud, and even provide a standing ovation. Yet a beautiful performance was marred by some audience members not understanding symphony behavior. David Itkin should take a few moments at the next performance to explain this. He would be taking advantage of a teachable moment, and doing everyone a huge favor.

Clapping should not occur between movements of a piece, but instead at the end when the conductor turns and faces the audience. If he isn’t facing the audience … don’t clap.

Silence between movements provides an opportunity for rest and reflection for both the performers and audience. Clapping disrupts this.

Just watch the faces of the performers, especially the violinists. They are reacting to David Itkin’s expression of a smile, eye rolling, gasping … or something. I’m afraid they are laughing at us.

Alice Chavez Jones, Abilene

There’s a famous aviation story about a pilot who, after becoming frustrated with a controller, finally came on the radio with “Am I up here because you’re down there, or are you down there because I’m up here?” I think it would be good for us to remember that we’re on stage and getting paid because there are people who want to hear us - and not the other way around.

Giving the audience the impression that we’re laughing at them is not the way to a community’s heart.

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2 comments feed top ↑

  1. Comment by Nicole Stacy
    February 11, 2019 at 2:00 PM

    Silence and reflection, huh? So it has time to sink into their Neanderthal brains that what they have just heard is great art
    …and God forbid they have the audacity to be human in public and have to expel a cough.

  2. Comment by Patricia Whaley
    February 10, 2019 at 2:00 PM

    Hear, hear, Rob. The custom has been different in different times and places. I confess that I used to be a real snob about this (and still am about many things…), but these days I’m grateful for any genuine response from an audience. They’re there, listening, having paid good money for a ticket to see us live rather than just downloading something off iTunes, and if they want to leap from their seats cheering after the second movement then I say good on ’em, you know?

    I do sigh a bit at the ones who can’t leave a second of silence at the end of something like the Barber Adagio… but really, folks, applause in the “wrong” place is better than indifference.