I just came home from a wonderful afternoon and evening outdoor jazz festival, right here in Greencastle.
I found myself thinking about what Cleveland Johnson (the Interim Dean of the DePauw School of Music) mentioned in his comment on the classical-music-in-jeans concert post. He said he found himself wanting to hear the music amplified–something he would never before have imagined himself wanting at a classical concert.
At the jazz festival, there was certainly much more talking and laughing than at my concert. And there was dancing. And there were even kids energetically playing basketball, just a few yards away from the stage. People were walking around, including some selling raffle tickets and desserts. Chairs were constantly being set up or taken down. Blankets were laid out and picked up. People waved to each other, moved to be with each other, embraced. They ate and drank.
But we could still hear every note being played or sung, because it was all amplified. (Quite well, too.) There was much, much more audience-generated sound and movement at the jazz festival than at the no-etiquette-rules recital I did the other night. But with the performers amplified, music was never obscured by the other sounds. The dancing and basketball playing wasn’t right in front of the performers, but to the side and a bit behind the stage, so it wasn’t visually distracting.
Traditional concert halls are designed for traditional concerts. I’ll do my next informal, interactive classical concert in a different sort of setting, and be amplified, too.
But it occurred to me while I was hanging out at the jazz festival that there was powerful symbolism, at least on the personal level, in using an official faculty recital in a university concert hall (where we used to have a list of 10 commandments for audience behavior, all stated as “thou shalt not . . .”) to smash the tradition, generate some debate, and start myself on a new adventure. The more I think about it, the more I like it.