Classical Music

Classical Music Changeup?

This past weekend, I saw an article posted by Molly Sasse, the Executive Director of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, that discussed 10 things that could be changed about classical music. In the article, the author discussed several rules or “norms” for listening to classical music that should, perhaps be considered for change.

Below are the list of 10 possibilities of concert possibilities. Why conform? Music opens up our minds to a myriad possibilities. Take a look at these.

Please add your thoughts – whether you agree or not – in the comments below. I’d love to know what you think as well.

1. The audience should feel free to applaud between movements

Absolutely! No sense in holding back a bit of spontaneous enthusiasm. Classical music doesn’t need to be stuffy and full of rules.

2. Orchestras should tune backstage

Onstage, I think, is fine. They have to be able to tune together – is there even enough space backstage?

3. We should be able to use mobile phones (in silent mode)

HELL NO! As someone who had a bright, glowing iPhone right in my line of sight for the first 3 movements of Beethoven’s 9th (seriously ushers. I know you saw it, too), I say we can live without our phones for a couple of hours.

4. Programs should be less predictable

Um…no. Print the full program, though as the article implies, don’t include the encore. It’s not an encore if you’re already planning on playing it.

5. You should be able to take your drinks inside the hall

Sure. Why not? We do at our CSO Happy Hour concerts.

6. The artists should engage with the audience


7. Orchestras shouldn’t play in tail suits

I like them for season premiers, major concerts. They look nice and I never get to see people in tuxes otherwise. Depends on the theatre and the setting. Dress alike, yes, but they’re not always necessary.

8. Concerts should be more family friendly

As long as they’re not coming and going in front of other patrons – a family / kids section might be a good idea. Kids should be at concerts, too, though before a certain age (not quite sure what that is) they might be a little too young for that setting – especially for a concert that starts after a baby/toddler/young child’s bedtime!

9. Concert halls should use more cutting-edge technology

As a patron who routinely sits way in the back, I love when I can see the musicians – and especially the conductor. All we see are the tails of the conductor – why should the orchestra have a monopoly on his/her expressions during the performance? It’s also great seeing close ups of the musicians themselves, the flying fingers of string players, for example. We can’t sit on stage and look over their shoulders, but a camera can get pretty close to that same view from time to time.

10. Every program should contain a contemporary piece

No. Why? Then every program would be the same. Besides, last weekend’s “Baroque Festival” would have been strange had it included something by Torke or Paulus or Boulez, don’t you think? 🙂

Live concerts are fun, they’re exciting. They give us an opportunity to hear a concert that will never again be repeated. Everyone should have access to these. Everyone.

Here’s the link again to the article. What do you think?




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