Clapping between movements – good, bad or great?
Listening to Prom (the greatest classical music festival in the world) performances this year, it’s noticeable that audiences are clapping between movements. And why not?
Here are some thoughts.
If you have ever been to an opera in Italy, you will have experienced the adjudication of the performance by the audience at the end of every aria – appreciation or derision!
Under the leadership of Roger Wright, the Proms have evolved to provide not only world class performers but also to explore as many musical connections as possible so that new and different audiences have been drawn in.
Not schooled in traditional concert-going, these audiences (often families) have responded instinctively with expectation, excitement and enthusiasm so their applause has been spontaneous rather than programmed!
The introduction of afternoon and late-night Proms has opened up to a more informal and relaxed approach with far more performer / audience interaction.
New musical ventures at the Proms into the worlds of media, film, folk and world music have also contributed to the new vibe.
Alarm bells were set ringing when celebrated American composer, John Adams said he was, “not at all certain that as a genre it (classical music) would survive the shortened attention spans of the Twitter generation,” adding that, “classical music audiences are the most timid and risk-averse of any arts audience.”
So, clapping after movements, and who knows, perhaps, as with performances of true flamenco, even after a spectacularly technical or moving passage in the music, looks to be great progress for the life, enjoyment and appreciation of classical music.