My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing or listening to classical music.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Musical crime report: Magical moment stolen before curtain rises

Image from Wikimedia Commons
Yesterday afternoon a disheartening musical crime was witnessed.  The scene of the crime was at a local ballet company's performance in which young dancers and musicians combined with the intent to transport their audience to places only conceivable in one's imagination.  One young victim, age 6, was in attendance with her parents.  They, eager to expose their child to a special cultural event,  arrived early to find their seats and to ensure that a sense of anticipation was heightened as their daughter repeatedly asked how many minutes remained until the curtain would rise.  Their strategy was successful until it was time for the show to begin.  All was well at first.  The ushers uniformly closed off the doorways to the hall, the lights were dimmed, and the audience, even the kids of a young age, drew a hushed silence.  The 6 year old was on the edge of her seat, holding her breath.

And then...

Instead of music rising from the orchestra pit, instead of the lush red velvet curtain rising, a man walked onto the stage with paper in hand.  For the next 10 minutes the gentleman in question proceeded to thank everyone responsible for the afternoon's event.  With each minute that ticked away in this fashion, the light in the 6 year old's eyes visibly faded and she grew more and more disinterested in what was to happen next.  The girl's parents were saddened and shocked by how quickly magic could be zapped from such a moment that could have been filled with unspeakable excitement.  

Upon further thought and investigation, the witnesses of the crime understood the motives of those who were responsible and no charges were pressed but the effect of this oversight was duly noted and it is the hope of the witnesses that others in the arts will remember the importance of those first moments in the concert hall when the lights have dimmed, whether those in the audience are 6 or 60 years old.  

14 comments:

  1. I understand completely where you're coming from. I detest self-serving pre-concert speeches. Anything that takes away from a performance is a very, very bad thing.

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    1. Thank you for adding your view on these types of occurrences, Jamey. There must be some other ways to pay respect to those that support arts organizations.

      Here's hoping they can be found!

      -Erica

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  2. Hi Erica,

    I have often been to concerts/shows that do that, and I also feel uneasy about them. I do think that if they keep on happening, it must be because they help the organization stay alive, which is important as well.

    I think the compromise that should happen would be to put a time limit on them, and to select a speaker who can engage the audience and stay within that time limit.

    As for the child, it sounds like the parents take enough care in her interest for the arts that they will surely provide her with other opportunities that will turn out more fruitful.

    Geraldine

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    1. Hello, Geraldine.
      I agree with you that those acknowledgements must pay off for the organizations and I'm all for thanking those that are willing and eager to support the arts. In addition to your idea of having a time limit I also wonder if announcements could moved to a different part of the program, perhaps after intermission. Those opening moments are so important in my mind.

      And your right about the parents - I do believe they will try again :-)

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      All the best,
      Erica

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  3. Oh Erica. I've seen this happen so many times. Once was at a District Orchestra concert. The high school students were left stranded on the stage for at least 20 minutes while everyone and their brother was thanked and then a speech was given about the importance of arts education. By the time the concert started, the students who had just spent the last two days rehearsing around the clock had visibly lost their edge and were either squirming in their seats or falling asleep. It is a crime and the adults should know better.

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    1. Oh my goodness, Catherine. 20 minutes? That must have been incredibly disheartening for everyone involved! I really have a difficult time understanding how that can happen.

      -Erica

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  4. I think most of it could be solved by just dimming the lights after the speech (although 10 minutes is a bit absurd). That's what I tend to see at my school, if they have such a talk at all. At senior recitals, for example, either a good friend of the performer or their teacher will usually stand up as the crowd is still talking among themselves, thank everyone for coming, remind them to turn off phones and pagers, etc, and THEN the lights go down, now that everyone is settled down and ready for the performance.

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    1. What a simple and logical solution, Nick!

      Thank you!

      Erica

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    2. I agree! I'm pretty sure this is what our symphony does (as far as lighting). And they keep the comments VERY brief. That is so important! Also, members of the orchestra do the welcome comments, so the brief time it takes for them to get back to their seat and situated, along with the rest of the lights dimming, helps rebuild that anticipation of "ooh yay, it's about to begin!"

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    3. Monika,
      I think that's really interesting and great that the members of the orchestra are the ones to do the comments. I would think that makes the "thank you" more meaningful and significant to everyone. And yes, keeping the comments very brief seems like a must in order to keep impatience and frustration at bay.

      Thanks for your comments!

      -Erica

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  5. Erica:

    I so agree. I feel these 'Talking Heads' moments do a great disservice to the art they are attempting to support.

    There must be a better way of engaging the monetary support of an audience.

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    1. Agreed, Eddie Louise.

      I wonder what the donors and others that are typically thanked feel about these pre-concert announcements. Is it worth it to them to hear their name mentioned even if it means ruining the moment?

      And it's great to see you here, by the way! Honored that you took the time to read and comment :-)

      All the best,
      Erica

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  6. Sybe Dijkstra (Netherlands)June 21, 2013 at 5:30 PM

    Haha, what a compassionate observation, and very witty too. Love your blog!

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed the post and my blog. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!

      All the best,
      Erica

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