What's pop got that classical might want?
The Wife and I attended four musical performances while vacationing in Montreal last month. Three were pop: the amazing tUnE-yArDs (a project of Smth graduate Merrill Garbus), the rock band Girls (the name refers to their favorite subject matter, not their sex), and the Conn.-based husband-and-wife pop duo Mates of State. A good time was had by all at each concert.
As it was for the fourth, a 10:30 am matinée musicale by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (or as they prefer, the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal) at their new Maison Symphonique, a stunning, curvaceous blonde of a concert hall with its pale Québécois wood and lack of flat surfaces. OK, so we're talking pommes et oranges when comparing the musical realms of pop and classical Still, a few things struck me at the pop concerts that classical presenters might want to at least think about.
In the pop concerts, the perfomers and audience were very close in age, dress, mannerisms and, when the space permitted, proximity. They talked back-and-forth throughout the evening, with the audience shouting out requests and the perfomers -- get this --sometimes playing the requested selection.s Some audience members sat and listened, others stood close to the stage, still others danced. Beverages, adult and otherwise, were served and enjoyed while the music played.
Could any of these things happen in classical music, including at orchestral concerts? Before you say "no", please consider that once up on a time, they used to happen, and in fact were expected to happen. Actually, that's not quite right. They used to happen before the music was "classical", with its emphasis on formality and history, and when it was just -- "music". So why not now? All right, maybe not during the St. Matthew Passion. But during the concert we attended of Gounod (Symphony No. 1), Saint-Saëns (Cello Concerto No. 1) and Roussel (Bacchus et Ariane Suite No. 2), why not?