BSO Behavior

February 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Perhaps I’m stodgy, but I can’t help but be disappointed by the behavior of the musicians of the Boston Symphony Orchestra on stage. They chatter incessantly between works and even while the orchestra is tuning. At one concert, while the orchestra received an ovation, the tympanist was busy placing the covers on the heads of his drums. Can he not wait a few minutes to graciously accept the audience’s thanks?

To be fair, I’m not certain that the BSO audiences are better. In the cheap seats, at least, there’s plenty of people talking, shifting loudly, and dropping things. At a recent concert, I watched one audience member fire up an iPhone and use it for the better part of one movement of a Mahler symphony. To be fair, the iPhone didn’t ring (unlike the buzz of a phone a few seats over), but the backlight was clearly visible and distracting even when it was only in my peripheral vision.

I’m not certain whose behavior is more galling. The BSO pays its musicians to be there, and it doesn’t seem too much to ask that they maintain a certain amount of decorum. Yes, these musicians are among the best in the world, but there are still plenty of truly great players who would probably be willing to sit quietly while the rest of the orchestra tunes and to graciously wait for applause to end before packing up to leave. But I don’t understand why the audience pays a premium for tickets just to chatter or surf the web from their seats.

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