… the concert hall. UD‘s friend Jeff sends her this essay by the LA Times’ music critic about the invasion of the concert hall by mobile devices.

[Some symphony] orchestras [are now] inviting audiences to wile away an hour with Tchaikovsky by tapping on their smartphones and iPads. [People have pointed out that] light is a disruption and that tweeting is an engagement in tweeting, not music.

… This has nothing to do with technophobia but with big and serious issues, and ones that go beyond classical music. But first let us note who is primarily advocating bringing phones and tablets into the concert hall. Social media consultants are increasingly being hired by orchestras and other arts institutions and given the mandate to fill theaters and museums with young bodies by creating online video games, misleadingly marketing classical music as if it somehow related to pop culture like, say, reality TV. Any novel idea to scam the social networking system to get the word out is apparently also OK.

Unfortunately, if the scammers have their way, the result could be an updated “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Treating classical music as if it were pop culture is no attempt to move an art form in a new direction but rather to find a convention for everything. We’re not talking pop people but pod people impelled to respond in a certain, single way. Technological fascism is not, I think, too strong a term for it…

The important point is that a classical concert provides an opportunity to untie the digital umbilical cord and replace it with chords that really do resonate. I don’t know about you, but I find turning off the cellphone a liberating experience.

… [H]olistic hearing comes from within — within music and within ourselves. Real innovation is what we don’t expect and tends to come when we don’t expect it.

It’s the inviolability of one’s private thoughts, one’s own consciousness, against the onslaught of mass consumption devices, that the critic is defending. Like UD, he’s trying to conserve environments in which the flow of fantasy, imagery, feeling, and idea, can remain free.

Audiences deserve the opportunity to approach something new without being told what to expect and be allowed the mental space to take it in.

Yes. Students deserve the same thing.

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One Response to “First, the classroom; and now…”

  1. Joe Fruscione Says:

    I just dealt with this dilemma this summer, at a production of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.

    I had to chastise someone (a 20-something) two seats down from me for texting during the first half (about 2 weeks back). The phone was silent, but the lights and constant tap-tap-tapping was extremely disturbing. Someone behind the texter asked her during intermission to stop; she did, but without an apology or acknowledgment of doing anything wrong. She only said, “Well the battery’s dying so everyone will he happy.”

    Sigh. I guess it was too much to hope for a “Yes, I’m sorry I was disturbing you. It won’t happen any more.” I only wish UD were there to add her feelings.

    Apparently, an actor broke character a week or two later to lay into an obnoxious phone user. Bravo/Brava!

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