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The Audience: What Difference?

category international | arts and media | opinion/analysis author Wednesday April 16, 2014 15:58author by Sean Crudden - impero Report this post to the editors

International Concert Series

Saturday night's concert was part of the International Concert Series presented in The National Concert Hall for 2013/2014. I was looking forward to the concert because the soloist and conductor, Michael Collins, is a totally congenial and engaging musician whom I last saw a number of years ago at the celebrity farewell concert for John Ruddock the famous Dublin/Limerick impresario. The atmosphere in The National Concert Hall that night was unforgettable, the best I ever remember. And Michael Collins had a lot to do with it. Everything was set fair for Saturday night. A very appealing program. A treat in store.

But that is not the way it worked out. I am not going to tax my brain here by constructing a formal review. Anyway Michael Collins does not need a review from me. He knows what he can do and so does anyone else with a titter of wit who has ever heard him play. However to let you know what I felt I am cutting and pasting an extract out of my journal for the day. This writing is basically addressed to myself. It is not meant to be a judgement; it is meant to remind me how I felt at the time.

"Read the program and drank a bottle of orange juice and in good time got to my seat in the balcony on the right facing the stage. The program was paid for in advance on-line. Michael Collins, the conductor and clarinettist, with The London Sinfonia. Mozart: Overture to The Magic Flute, K 620. Simcock: On a Piece of Tapestry. Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A major, K 622. Interval. Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F major, Pastoral, Op. 68. Everything went nicely until the concluding pause at the end of the second movement of the concerto. An incongruous cough. A cynical laugh without any humour from a section of the audience that I could not see down below me near the stage. It seemed to mock Collins in his finest moment. Devalued his efforts and spoiled the concert. The rest of the performance was fine but the atmosphere never recovered. The feeling was gone and the conductor was merely doing his duty. Friendly and engaging his attitude was a mistake from the start. Not his fault. A boorish audience and treacherous. Lovely idiomatic music. Exquisite timing and a friendly sound which seemed to fit the concert hall very well."

At the interval I brought up the subject of audience reaction with the gentleman, I did not know him, sitting beside me. "I'm sure it happens in other places," he concluded.

The remark brought me back to a concert I had attended in Sala Radio, Bucharest, in December. The audience there was calm, attentive and the applause was quiet and appreciative. The music that night was beautiful, concertos by Haydn and Handel.

Maybe it's the influence of Ceausescu on an older generation that makes the difference? I do not know what the influences were on the audience in The National Concert Hall, Dublin, on Saturday night.

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