Crowd surfer carried away by Handel thrown out of alternative Proms

 

When Tom Morris launched the Bristol Proms, he invited audiences to participate with enthusiasm in a festival which would destroy the stuffy conventions of traditional classical concerts.

But now the War Horse director has been forced to accept a ban on “crowd-surfing”, after a leading scientist took the invitation to respond physically to Handel’s Messiah rather too literally.

Bryn Terfel, violinist Lisa Batiashvili and Will Gregory of Goldfrapp are among the artists who will perform later this summer at the Bristol Old Vic, where Morris, the artistic director, has created an “accessible and informal” alternative to the BBC Proms.

Before a performance of the Messiah, Mr Morris, who directed War Horse at the National Theatre, invited the audience to bring beer into a standing “mosh pit” in front of the stage and delivered the Bristol Proms rules: “Clap or whoop when you like, and no shushing other people.”

The Messiah mosh-pit included Dr David R Glowacki, a Royal Society Research Fellow and visiting scientist at Stanford University, an expert in non-equilibrium molecular reaction dynamics.

According to witnesses, Dr Glowacki responded to the crescendo of the “Hallelujah Chorus” by lurching from side to side, raising his hands, whooping and then attempting an ambitious crowd-surfing manoeuvre.

Tom Morris, who directed ‘War Horse’, has revolutionised etiquette at the Bristol Proms Tom Morris, who directed ‘War Horse’, has revolutionised etiquette at the Bristol Proms (Sam Frost)
Other audience members, who found Dr Glowacki a distraction, took matters into their own hands and physically ejected him from the arena.

“He got very over-excited,” said Mr Morris. “It was the first eviction of a classical concert audience member by another member we’ve found since the 18th century.”

Some audience members have now urged the director to set clear etiquette guidelines for future concerts.

Whilst Mr Morris is reluctant to re-introduce codes of behaviour he believes have stifled classical concerts for too long, he accepts that crowd-surfing will not be tolerated.

“The Bristol Proms are contributing to a ground-breaking way of thinking which will pave the way for a new kind of classical concert. But by allowing an audience to respond in whatever way they want, you also allow an audience to self-regulate, as we discovered.”

However, Dr Glowacki believes that Mr Morris has failed to demonstrate the courage of his convictions. “Classical music, trying to seem cool and less stuffy, reeks of some sort of fossilised art form undergoing a midlife crisis,” said the lecturer.

“Witness what happened to me when I started cheering with a 30-strong chorus shouting ‘praise God’ two metres from my face: I get physically assaulted, knocked down to the floor and forcibly dragged out by two classical vigilantes.

“Neither the bourgeoisie audience nor their curators (eg Tom Morris) really believe what they say. You’re free to behave as you like, and it’s comforting to think that you have that freedom, but it’s only available to you so long as you behave correctly.”

Dr Glowacki denied that he was drunk, saying: “This may be a consequence of me being American, but I can quite easily be provocative without the need to be inebriated.”

Mr Morris said Dr Glowacki would not be banned and hopes he will return. “David was investigating what the nature of the rules are, using the skills that make him an extraordinary scientist – and for some in the audience, a slightly irritating one.”

But Mr Morris, brother of satirist Chris Morris, hopes violence will not erupt during next month’s performance of 4’33”, John Cage’s notorious “silent symphony”. Chinese pianist Ji Liu will “perform” work which requires the musicians not to play their instruments for its duration.

“I’ve got no idea what will happen,” Mr Morris said. “Four minutes and 33 seconds is long enough for unexpected things to happen and for an audience to reflect on and react to them.”

The Bristol Proms, now in their second year will continue to challenge the “elitist, unwelcoming atmosphere surrounding classical,” said Max Hole, the head of Universal Music International, Morris’s partner in staging the event.

Hole caused controversy when he told the Association of British Orchestras that musicians had to change the way they dress, become more excited when they play and to encourage the audience to applaud whenever they want, in order to attract a new crowd.

Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans has been confirmed as the new host of Top Gear
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Top of the class: Iggy Azalea and the catchy ‘Fancy’
music
Arts and Entertainment
Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters performs at Suncorp Stadium on February 24, 2015 in Brisbane, Australia.

music
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans had initially distanced himself from the possibility of taking the job

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
British author Matt Haig

books
Arts and Entertainment
Homeland star Damian Lewis is to play a British Secret Service agent in Susanna White's film adaptation of John le Carre's Our Kind of Traitor

Film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map
    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
    Paris Fashion Week

    Paris Fashion Week

    Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
    A year of the caliphate:

    Isis, a year of the caliphate

    Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
    Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

    Marks and Spencer

    Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
    'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

    'We haven't invaded France'

    Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
    Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

    Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

    The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
    7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

    Remembering 7/7 ten years on

    Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
    Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

    They’re here to help

    We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
    What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

    What exactly does 'one' mean?

    Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue