Last night my DePauw faculty colleagues Keith Tonne (tenor) and Amanda Hopson (piano) did a wonderful performance of the complete Die schöne Müllerin cycle by Schubert. They even had the poems Schubert didn't use in the cycle (as I understand it, programs had run out by the time I arrived) read aloud between several of the songs.
It was a beautiful performance, exceedingly well-prepared. A large audience, much larger than the usual faculty recital audience (hmm, maybe things are picking up?--well, we'll see how things are 40 recitals from now), if a bit smaller than at my alternative concert a week before. The audience was quiet and respectful, and when I looked around the hall everyone seemed quite attentive. It was the a traditional concert environment at its best, and I enjoyed the concert very much.
It's the kind of concert that can be done in academia, where there's no extra fee paid to the faculty performers and where no tickets need to be sold. And academia is one of the places where it's entirely appropriate to do formal recitals with a reverently quiet audience. As I reflected on that, other thoughts came to mind as well:
- This works in academia and in a few major cities, but I don't think leider recitals are doing well anywhere else.
- Would applause between some of the songs, especially after the lighter ones, have absolutely ruined the possibility for a deep artisitic experience?
- It was the end of a very long day and I'd had a large dinner. If I'd been able to clap once in a while, to express myself in some physical way, would I expereinced less occasional sleepiness and mind wandering. In other words, with some breaks in concentration, would my concentration during the music have been more focused?
- It takes an audience well-versed in classical music to provide the kind of respectful, attentive, quiet envionment which was so enjoyable last night (and that's one of the great things about academia--where outside of a college or university in central Indiana would one find such an audience for lieder?).
- Even if we accept that this is the ideal format in which to experience a perfromance of something likeDie schöne Müllerin , this is not the format to bring in a new audience, an audience that once involved in classical music through a more participatory experience might then be ready and interested in experiencing a more "serious" concert environment.