Sunday, July 13, 2008

Politeness in live concerts -where has it gone?

I have just been to see a wonderful young orchestra play some amazing orchestral pieces in the Perth Concert Hall, conducted by a virtuoso, world class conductor.
The music was fabulous, and the young people played with distinction. I happen to know they have practiced all week last week, more than 5 hours a day, perfecting their performance.

In the final piece, after the interval, a woman two rows from the front started eating from a foil wrapped bag of potato crisps! The cellists were distracted, and even the conductor turned around twice to see what was making the racket. Then she burped ( I kid you not!) and then when the crisps were finished, she rummaged in her bag (still rustling the foil) until she found her hand cream and then proceeded to noisily slap the cream on her hands!

I really think most people do not know how to distinguish between sitting in your loungeroom watching a DVD, and making comments as you like, and a live performance in which the players are with you, sometimes only metres away.

So, here is my "audience guide" to how to conduct yourself at live performances:
1. Get there on time. If you are late and your seat is at the front, ask the staff to put you at the back (if they let you in at all) until a suitable break.
2. Don't eat in the middle of a performance, especially in a 'quite bit"
3. Don't text people on your mobile phone in the middle of the performance. Even if your keys ar soundless, the light disturbs others. Some sound systems will be disturbed by your activity.
4. If you bring your baby and he or she begins to cry, please take them out.
5. If you are in a classical music performance, look at the programme and work out how many movements you are listening to. It is expected that each movement will proceed without applause between them. Let there be a quiet moment, so that the music can flow from one mood to the next without interruption.

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