The formality of a traditional concert can feel like a relic of a bygone age, and one can well understand that there exists doubt about the relevance of the traditional live concert experience in this modern, technologically transformed age.
But there is a power to the ritualistic and formal nature of a concert. I would never want to give up the heightened, special dimension that concerts can have: the thrill of entering a beautiful room with other audience members who have dressed up for the occasion; the dignity of the protocol observed on stage. There is nothing more tragic, though, than people missing out because they believe that classical music is beyond them because they don’t have formal attire, or that they won’t know when to clap, or that there is something too sanctified for them to be able to identify with, or there is a secret language or lore about which they are not-in-the-know.
There is, and probably should be, something mythical about what happens on stage and the people who make it happen. But if an audience does not feel the musicians’ humanity, or cannot sense a generous impulse pouring off the stage from the musicians’ open hearts, the invisible veil of the ‘fourth wall’ will remain impenetrable.
Excerpt from a lecture at the Royal Philharmonic Society, London, UK – April 15, 2015