I normally write every word of my blogs, but this is an exception. I totally agree with the writer's viewpoint, so I am naming him and forwarding his comments. Barbara and I attended the Berkeley Symphony concert which inspired his words.
Richard Reynolds is a French horn player and longtime member of the Berkeley Symphony and other orchestras. His report first appeared in the Berkeley Daily Planet online.
We’ve all been there.
The concert ends, the applause begins. A well-dressed woman up front (the chair of the board?) stands up. The other board members see her standing, and they stand up too.
Other audience members see people in front standing up, and they begin to stand as well. The conductor or soloist bows to the audience and exits stage right. By the time she returns, most of the audience is standing.
This is all wrong.
It misses the point.
A standing-ovation performance is one in which you are so excited at the end that the only possible action is to leap to your feet. If you have to think about it, forget it. The performance doesn’t deserve a standing ovation.
Bay Area audiences are way too ready to rise to their feet at the end of a performance. I have, on occasion, given in to the crowd and joined in when everyone around me has risen to his or her feet, but I do so grudgingly, and if I saw nothing exceptional about the performance, I will remain seated.
Last Thursday, when Johannes Moser performed the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Berkeley Symphony, I didn’t have to think about it. Like most of the audience, I jumped to my feet before the last hair on his bow had snapped. Moser grabbed that concerto by the throat at the very beginning and never let go until he was finished.
It was a tour de force. I suppose one could take issue with the way he nearly threw his bow into the air when completing a particularly energetic phrase, but it never felt like theatrics. He was immersed in the concerto throughout.