Applause during classical concerts-A A +A
Sunday, August 12, 2012
THERE'S nothing mysterious or difficult about how to act at a concert. It’s mostly just common sense: The music needs silence, so the audience contributes silence; both the musicians and the audience want to concentrate on the music, so listeners stay put during a performance. Read on more from this article by naxos.com.
You don’t have to sit like a statue. You can breathe; you can shift your body in your chair. You can respond to the music, but your response will be inward. You might experience intense feelings while outwardly sitting quite still. This inwardness is part of the style and vibe of classical music.
(Nowadays, some classical events welcome more outward response, but most classical concerts cultivate an inner experience—emotion without motion.)
The basic idea is to help each other focus on the music. Making noise, fidgeting, or walking around can distract other listeners, and it may interfere with the musicians’ concentration. We’re all used to talking and moving around while the TV is on—it’s easy to forget that at a concert the performers can see and hear the audience. Your attention and silence will help the musicians to perform a better concert. They can feel your involvement, and it inspires them to give their best.
A common concern of listeners at classical concerts, and one of the chief obstacles to enjoying the music, is the dreaded fear of clapping at the wrong time. It’s no wonder the audience is afraid: Classical musicians don’t usually make clear what they expect of the audience.
In other kinds of music, the audience claps whenever there’s an ending—if the music stops, people applaud. But in classical music, one piece may have several parts, each with its own ending. You are supposed to wait to the very end of the very last movement before you can clap.
This can be tough. Sometimes you can’t tell if the piece is over. Sometimes you get so carried away by the music that you really want to clap. Sometimes you’re so enthusiastic after a section ends that you’ve just got to clap for the musicians.
By the way, the tradition of waiting to applaud until the very end of a piece is relatively new. In other times and places, audiences clapped throughout the music.
Mozart, for instance, was proud to report in a letter to his father that there had been wild applause during his latest symphony. So if you feel an urge to clap before the very end of a piece, you’re in tune with an authentic, historical tradition.
In some situations you can clap whenever you like something. This is often the case at opera and ballet. The audience may applaud the lights dimming, the curtain opening, the first appearance of a major star, an impressive dance move, a lovely song, or a beautifully designed backdrop.
But it’s not like this at every ballet and opera. If you get confused, just imitate the rest of the audience. And remember this: if you’re not sure when to clap, it’s not your fault. The performers are supposed to help you know when to clap, but they don’t always make it clear.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 13, 2012.