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Classical Notes

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.

Comments (2)

At last! Another person feels as I do! I think that the Standing Ovation has become more an expression of politeness than a reward for true excellence. It's almost as though people fear that if they don't stand they communicate that they are rejecting the performer's efforts. I wonder how the performers perceive it

Posted by Pat Oldham | April 11, 2006 4:27 PM

I attended a performance recently in which the standing O was inadvertenetly triggered by ushers, who were watching the show, standing to leave a bit ahead of the crowd in order to staff their posts...

I also think that, once enough audience members start to stand, others start to stand, too, just so they can see what's going on on stage.

As for me, I'm content to stay in my seat, applauding appreciatively, trying not to look at the rear end of the person standing in front of me.

Posted by Gillian Martin | April 15, 2006 12:36 PM