Ravi Narasimhan responds to me responding to him, Re: Perlman's lecturing
an audience for not appreciating something by Messiaen.
>>> Why would any audience put up with this kind of patronizing?
>>2. Perhaps an audience that, rather than have their prejudices
>>or instantaneous conclusions flattered, prefer to learn something.
>>And, by the way, they paid for the privilege of walking out.
> I am not sure of your meaning. I am fairly confident I would have walked
> out, had I been there. The closest analogy is from my graduate school
> days over 20 years ago. Nobel Laureate came to give a department seminar
> with the expectations of collegiality that attach to it. He wanted 90
> minutes instead of the usual 60 and got them. He proceeded to deliver
> a classroom lecture in a condescending tone, stopping halfway, and
> instructing people to return after a five minute break. Few of the
> faculty returned, most of the students didn't, and as far as I know, he
> hasn't been asked back. Southern Florida apparently doesn't get a lot
> of respect from classical musicians. I recall Daniele Gatti going
> medieval on an audience there a few years ago.
There's condescension and there's condescension. One form of condescension
is open and honest - Perlman's kind. Then there's the condescension
that treats the audience as idiots merely by catering to what the performer
knows people will already like.
I've walked out of performances, but almost always of pieces of standard
rep -- sloppy, lazy, unreflective performances that I really didn't need
to leave my house to hear. Even so, I've kept my seat more often than
I don't really know what Perlman said, but as for repeating a new work
that the audience booed, he has plenty of precedent. Works escape me
right now, but they have included scores now considered by most listeners
I'm not saying you shouldn't boo. In fact, I think it a sign of caring.
As I've always said, art is a risk -- for composer, performer, AND for
listener. This idea of rapt acceptance has always rubbed me the wrong
way. But walking out? I'm not sure. Obviously Perlman believes enough
in the work to play it again. Do you suspect he might be a musician
good enough to learn something from or simply a vacuous ego? If the
latter, why buy a ticket in the first place? I have no idea, by the
way, which Messiaen piece he played.
As for Gati, there are essentially two responses: pouting and sulking
over the insult; actually taking the comments as a basis for examination.
Do you need to improve the hall or build a better hall? I had the
misfortune of performing in the old Lincoln Center orchestra hall.
Rehearsals went great. Then with people actually in chairs for the
performance, the acoustics were so bad, I couldn't hear the musician
next to me. If the slang "suck" had been in use way back then, I would
have used it. Eventually, people listened to the those who performed
there and completely gutted and rebuilt the hall, I'm told for the
Now, of course, people will complain about the expense. That's fine,
too. The community gets to set its own priorities. In that case,
however, you really have to face the possibility (or the actuality) that
the hall, indeed, isn't good enough.
The CLASSICAL mailing list is powered by L-Soft's renowned LISTSERV(R)
list management software together with L-Soft's HDMail High Deliverability
Mailer for reliable, lightning fast mail delivery. For more information,
go to: http://www.lsoft.com/LISTSERV-powered.html