There is a nice story over at Slipped Disc about conductor David Bernard’s reaction to a small boy talking between pieces in a recent concert. Audience members became restless at the disturbance, asking his parents to take him out. Bernard’s reaction is priceless.
Warmed hearts aside, the incident raises an interesting question about the suitability of bringing young children to concerts of classical music. In the first instance one might be inclined to say that the parents were wrong to bring the child. In the end, however, the conductor was able to turn the situation into an valuable lesson, and not just for the child.
If music is to be accessible to all, it needs to be welcoming to all. Part of that is a willingness to be flexible about concert conduct. Whilst it is important that others can listen to the music without interruption—a lesson properly learned in the Bernard story—I have never, for example, understood why people get so prissy about spontaneous applause between movements. Are we really so delicate as to let such small things disturb our enjoyment?