Letter: Hiss and boo the musical purists

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The Independent Online
Hiss and boo the musical purists

Sir: Reading the correspondence on the subject of the Proms' audiences (Letters, 14 and 19 August) has reminded me why it is so long since I have been to a concert in a non-performing role.

The modern institution of the classical concert seems to be specially designed to frighten off "outsiders". The quasi-religious atmosphere is reinforced by an arcane set of commandments for the "congregation": thou shalt clap in the right places (try explaining to a first-time concert- goer why the leader is applauded before he/she has played a note), thou shalt not make noises in the wrong place, and so on.

What would lure me back to concerts would be a return to the pre-Victorian days when audience participation was the norm: oh, to have been in the audience when Mozart's Paris Symphony was premiered - the spontaneous reaction of the audience during the performance was entirely what Mozart intended. Had Mozart been greeted by the hushed reverence of today's concerts, he would have wondered what had gone wrong.

So go on then, Promenaders, if you're excited, shout and clap, if you're shocked, hiss and boo, if you're just plain bored, talk amongst yourselves. Should any of the "cognoscenti" ask you to keep quiet, I would suggest that you advise them to go and buy the CD; then they could go and listen to the music without the interruptions of others less "knowledgeable" than themselves