In the past couple of months, encounters at classical concerts include being glared at for opening a cough-drop packet; getting spoken to for moving in the seat and writing during the music; having somebody walk over and say a few words about holding a plastic bag. All but the last happened to me, and I'm supposed to know the rules.
Somewhere else, you can stand up, sit on the floor, wander out, even quench your thirst, without feeling a pariah - and that's just the Proms. Apply the principle to a more intimate event, a century on, and the idea of "London's first classical music club night" makes sense. This Isn't For You presented 45 minutes of DJ selections on either side of an hour's chamber music.
The old council chamber of Shoreditch Town Hall is a surprisingly intimate double cube. Music stands and CD players spread along one side, with the bar off at one end in a committee room. A good-sized crowd assembled but nobody quite knew how to behave.
Eleanor Wilson built up a nice set, mainly instrumental, from chilled-out early music to bouncy Beethoven. No dancing but plenty of circulation. Spotlights went on, a few musicians sat down, a hush descended. Alina Ibragimova began to play unaccompanied Bach on the violin, and the hush became silence. This was spontaneous, the first sense that something new could happen. The music had come into the space where you were living, rather than vice versa.
Second novelty: how do you applaud? In an uneasy trickle followed by expectant chatter, the room decided. The cellist Bartholomew LaFolette began his Kurtag miniature when he was ready, and the chat faded quickly. After a few alternations of old and recent music, LaFolette played something longer, a Britten chaconne, and earned real applause.
It all went wrong with Webern followed by a disastrous performance of Reich's Clapping Music. But there was a real climax when seven players presented Bach's E major Violin Concerto. The finale to the live music was perfection. Gweneth-Ann Jeffers emerged from the crowd, sang "Dido's Lament" to devastating effect, and disappeared. It had all taken an hour. The DJ resumed, you didn't have to go home, and people drifted off gradually, many trying to book for the next session on their way out.
Next night 14 February ( www.ti4u.co.uk)Reuse content