The Guardian’s Tom Service was upset at the end of a recent concert and the LA Times thought it worth posting a poll to see whether or not readers agree that some concert goers should be fined for their “misbehavior.” Just the headlines for these posts get off to a bad start.
So what was the offense? An audience member began expressing his appreciation for the performance before Service would have liked him to. In other words, an audience member really liked the performance - so much so that he burst with enthusiasm at the first reasonably appropriate moment. In Service’s mind, it would have been better had this jubilant listener been put to sleep by the performance.
And Service is not alone. Apparently a majority of people who took the LA Times poll support Service’s idea that people who express their appreciation for a performance should be fined. And it’s a vast majority when you include the people who think it may be OK (or that an “early clapper/shouter should be banned”). Here’s the poll immediately after I submitted a response:
Granted, it’s a very small sample size, but the results are disturbing nonetheless. I suspect Service may have been engaging intentionally in hyperbole when he suggested that some audience members be fined, but it is hyperbole that does no good for the classical music world. Rather it serves to underscore the impression that classical music patrons are a group of pricks who insist on keeping classical music an insular pursuit.
And, of course, Service’s complaint makes no rational sense. Remember, we are not talking about people making noise during a performance. No, in this case the complaint is that someone applauded during the period of time designated for applause. Unlike chatting mid-movement, any complaints that applause was too early, too late, or too right on time are entirely arbitrary. When would Service have been comfortable with the beginning of the applause? 5 seconds after the release of the final chord? Wouldn’t 6 have been better? But then again if 5 works, wouldn’t 4.99? Surely, 1/100th of a second doesn’t make a difference. And if that’s the case, 4.98, 4.97, 4.96 seconds, and so on, would be just fine. There is no rational, objective argument against applauding at any time after the piece is complete. And people who would impose their personal tastes or other subjective standards on others for not rational reason are, to put it poetically as opposed to politically, assholes.
Furthermore, this particular display of dickishness seems to evince Service’s (and the majority of LA Times poll participants’) desire to keep classical music a segregated pursuit. History is full of examples of one group attempting to keep other groups out of a certain privilege or club based on nothing but arbitrary or otherwise irrational arguments. In the United States, this runs from deciding who could vote to, more recently, who can marry. It seems that so often a prime motivator for those who would have kept others out of such institutions was/is fear of change; and fear is never a rational motivation.
I suspect it is the same for all those who would fine the man who shouted “Bravi!” as soon as Rattle lowered his baton in London. These people fear what it would mean for them if their beloved concert halls were full of plebs. But an inability to recognize a need for an implement change has killed societies in the past. Fear of change may very well kill classical music in the future.blog comments powered by Disqus
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