Simon Rattle teaches us how to cough
Share with others:
As you may know, perhaps from this article I wrote earlier in the year or from my writing in general, I am not a zealot for silence in the concert hall. I would like it, but I believe classical music should be human like anything else and that we shouldn't crucify someone for coughing. It's that kind of response that keeps people from wanting to go to concerts. On the other hand, I do wish more people had common courtesy like not talking during a concert, unwrapping cough drops inside of their coats (or other clothing) or covering up their mouths when coughing to muffle the sound.
That's what Simon Rattle tried to get across, it appears, at Carnegie Hall this past weekend when his Berlin Philharmonic visited. For the most part, I think conductors are in poor taste admonishing the audience and patronizing in "teaching" them, but perhaps Rattle did it in a good way. The AP doesn't really say how he did it -- tone and such.
One thing to keep in mind, Carnegie Hall is actually one of the worst places for audience behavior because of all the tourists that attend. Every time I have been there the audience has clapped in between movements and coughed like crazy. Again, I can deal with it, but perhaps Rattle should have been warned that even Avery Fisher and certainly Heinz Hall would give him an audience he is more used to in Germany.
In any case, Karma seems to agree with me, with the blaring siren that showed up in the end of the Mahler showing how fruitless it is to try to make classical music a hermetic experience. Pretty funny stuff.
Rattle Asks for Silence, Gives Demo
By Ronald Blum
November 16, 2007
NEW YORK (AP) - As Simon Rattle found out, conductors can't control everything.
The music director of the Berlin Philharmonic stepped off the podium, turned around and spoke to the audience at Carnegie Hall after the first movement of Mahler's Ninth Symphony on Tuesday night.
Apparently perturbed by repeated coughing, Rattle reminded the crowd that "this piece starts with silence and returns to silence. The audience can help to create the piece by remaining silent."
He then pointed out his handkerchief as an example of how coughing could be muffled.
While there was a noticeable drop in crowd noise during the remaining three movements, as the strings faded in the final notes of the closing adagio, the mood was disrupted by the sounds of a siren from a passing emergency vehicle on Seventh Avenue.
An eight-day residency by the Berlin Philharmonic and Rattle is the centerpiece of Carnegie Hall's "Berlin in Lights" festival, which continues through Sunday.
First Published November 20, 2007 12:00 am