Tuesday, January 17, 2006

felixsalmon.com: Applause between movements

felixsalmon.com: Applause between movements I have had an ideological issue with the convention of not applauding between movements of a classical work, or between works by the same composer when I took a friend who was an avid heavy metal listener to a concert of song cycles. He was enjoying himself enourmously untill he got carried away with delight, and applauded loudly at the end of a particularly pleasing number from Elgar's Sea Pictures. He was so humiliated by the disdainful looks and whispers he received as a result, he swore he would never let me talk him into anything ever again. And he never has.
I understand the motivation for discouraging excessive applause, but I really believe that where such is considered necessary, either no break between movements should be taken, or the audience should be instructed before the section of the concert in question how they will be expected to respond. I did a performance of Seiber's Yugoslav Folk Songs with my chamber choir, and had them sing all movements without a break. It was an exhausting exercise, but so worth it, as the build in energy and atmosphere throughout the work was delightful. On the other hand, a french horn player friend of mine couldn't possibly play a whole symphony without a break. His lips would fall off! He did, however, have someone announce before his final recital for his BMus how the concert was to work.
The issue for me is that in a country like South Africa, where audiences are limited, and as classical performers we share audiences with the world of Jazz, or folk, or popular music, we can't afford to alienate audiences.

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