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Classical Notes: April 11, 2006 Archive

All rise

Posted at 12:55 PM on April 11, 2006 by Don Lee (2 Comments)

Acting on the notion that a little confession is good for the soul, I will admit here, publicly, that I have been thinking curmudgeonly thoughts. At a concert Saturday night, I stubbornly stayed seated as most everyone else in the audience rose in a standing ovation. It was a lively, stirring performanceófar better than average. But I chose not to stand.

Why? Well, for one thing, I've always thought standing ovations were meant to recognize exceptional artistry. I havenít kept close track, but Iíd venture that four out of five Twin Cities performances I attend (not only concerts) end in standing oís. The exception is the event that does not bring the audience to its feet. On Saturday night, I decided I was not going to contribute to standing ovation inflation.

I also found myself thinking uncharitable thoughts about the motives of others in the audience. Thatís what brought me up short and led to this confession. Itís the kind of thinking that would reserve the concert hall for a prescribed kind of behavior. Itís the kind of thinking that can drive people away from classical music.

I hope youíll forgive me. I canít promise that Iíll join each and every standing ovation from now on. But if you feel moved to stand, I will gladly applaud for you too.

Comment on this post

Standing on Tradition

Posted at 11:09 PM on April 11, 2006 by Valerie Kahler
Filed under: Concerts

In response to Don's post about "requisite" standing Os, I have this to say:

[leaps to feet, clapping wildly]

Bravo! Bravo!

Having been on both sides of a perfunctory standing ovation, I'll say that as a performer it can be embarrassing when you know the performance didn't merit an A+. It's one thing if it's Grandma and Aunt Marge (and the concert was in the living room!) but entirely another when you sense the crowd going through the motions. And yes, as an audience member I've often felt compelled rather than impelled to stand.

Tangent:

Is this phenomenon at all related to the profusion of tip jars in the last 5-10 years? Used to be tipping was for service...you know, walking from here to there, carrying something. And, importantly, tipping was for waiters/bussers who were making below minimum wage and relied on tips for the bulk of their incomes.

Now, tip jars are everywhere - at the coffee counter, at the sandwich shop, the airport parking shuttle.

Lest you think I'm just another stingy curmudgeon: I'm a former waiter myself and a notorious overtipper. I almost always tip unless I'm met with outright surliness.