I always enjoy reading Alex Ross, author of The Rest is Noise and writer for The New Yorker. In a recent interview with Michael Louis Vinson of the Appleton Post Crescent, he had this to say about some of the traditions surrounding the classical music concert experience.
I really am a big believer in pushing back against some of these stereotypes around classical music. It discourages me when I see scenes in movies or even TV commercials where classical concerts always get depicted as a bunch of stuffy people in evening wear. When you go to a regular concert, people don’t dress like that. People dress up a little bit, in the same way they do when they go to the theater, but it’s really not that kind of an environment.
Some of those stereotypes are self-generated to a certain extent. I think classical music has had a problem with projecting a certain image and being too reserved and too attached to some old rituals of behavior in the concert hall. That needs to be addressed, and there are some people who are really taking that on. They’re thinking about how we can do this differently. What is a different contemporary model that we could have for classical concerts? Read the full interview with Alex Ross.
His comments prompted me to search out and re-watch this scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much:
This movie is 55 years old. 55 years. Yet the depiction of the concert doesn’t seem all that far removed from what happens most nights in concert halls across the country—if you omit the attempted assassination.