The concerts I attended this past weekend brought up several issues related to the whole future of concert music issue:
Diversity—The Calder Quartet is made up entirely of white men. They are very young, to be sure, but it was interesting that it was noteworthy that there were no women or minorities in the group. Not too long ago it would have been notable if they weren’t all white men.
Applause—The audience at the TSO concert applauded (I would say it was close to half the audience) after the first movement of the Brahms Violin Concerto. It’s not unusual for there to be applause after the first movement of a concerto, especially of there’s a virtuoso cadenza just before the end. Miriam Burns (TSO Music Director) did nothing to stop the applause, and she has in the past. The violinist (Yang Liu) acknowledged the applause with a quick nod of the head. At the Calder Quartet concert the next day, which had a group of elementary school students in attendance, there was a little applause from the kids at the end of the exposition of the first movement of the Schubert “Rosamunde”. The players continued without stopping, with the first violinist giving a bemused smile.
Outreach—The elementary school students were there as part of an outreach program. They were from a school in an underprivileged area of Tallahassee, and the Calders had visited the school during the week. The experience seemed to be a positive one for the players as well as for the children.
Program order—I’ve always believed that the most difficult or unfamiliar work on a concert should be first after intermission. This is a guideline rather than a requirement, of course. I believe it is usually the best time for an audience to dig in, as it were. That why I was a little disappointed when I saw the announced order of the Calder program: Mendelssohn-Riley-[intermission]-Schubert. I don’t know why it was changed, but the order ended up being Mendelssohn- Schubert-[intermission]-Riley. The Riley came across much better that way than it would have the other. For the record, the Sessions (Black Maskers Suite) was immediately after intermission in the TSO program, right where it belonged.
Talking to the audience—the second violinist of the Calder Quartet gave some brief introductory remarks before the performance of the Terry Riley Cadenza on the Night Plain. I thought it was very effective and gave the audience some clear idea of what to listen for. The only suggestion I would offer would be to include some examples.