I enjoyed Stephen M. Davis’s “Symphony Flags,” where he complained that, “[a]side from talking, cell phones and coughing, nothing mars a performance more than applause between movements. And, other than cowboy hats and tractor hats, nothing marks a community more as a backwater of the beaux arts than such a robust expression of rubedom.”
I generally agree with both of those sentiments; during a recent performance of Beethoven’s Ninth, I had the grim pleasure of tapping a disruptive nine-year-old seated in front of me on the shoulder and, when he turned around, hissing at him, “Knock it off!” He managed to behave during the rest of the performance.
But unfortunately, you can’t tell thirty or forty people in a concert hall to stop clapping.
All that having been said, I have to admit to having broken that rule once myself. Last year, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg performed the Tchaikovsky violin concerto with our local Alexandria Symphony Orchestra. While waiting for her first entrance, she had all the appearance of a sprinter preparing for a 100-yard dash; she shifted from one foot to the other, shook her arms as if relaxing them, rolled her head around as if working any stray kinks out of her neck. Then she made her entrance.
The movement was a European high-speed train careening full tilt down a mountain. The tempo was — well, “breathtaking” is too mild a word; “terrifying” really describes it. The sound was full-bodied and robust. You held your breath the entire movement, expecting the inevitable catastrophic derail — which never came. When the movement’s final chords crashed through the hall, everyone immediately burst into thunderous applause — not the usual desultory scattered claps you generally hear. When the noise had died down, Salerno-Sonnenberg, looking a little embarrassed, remarked to the audience, “I’m sorry to have to tell you, but there are still two more movements.”p>General laughter. br> — Bernie Gilbert br> Alexandria, Virginia
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Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?