Applause & Pretentiousness Survey: Early Results

I originally planned on posting some detailed results from last week’s Applause & Pretentiousness Survey but at more than a steady stream of 150 responses, it isn’t showing any sign of slowing down, so I’m going to let it run at least another day. However, there’s been a great deal of worthwhile discussion going on about the issue since then…

If you have not had an opportunity to take the survey yet, you can do so by clicking here.

Additionally, there has been a number of great comments on the issue so far, they are spread out over a two different articles on the topic, but you can find them all at the following locations:
Article #1
Article #2

I especially like the comment on applause from Christopher Guerin (located in the latter article link).

Finally, there has been on a few interesting voting trends from the survey so far. In paricular, one respondent group in out of those that identified themselves as managers, musicians, board members, or listeners has been very conservative in their responses. Care to take a guess as to which one it is?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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4 thoughts on “Applause & Pretentiousness Survey: Early Results”

  1. What is applause if not an integral part of the communal experience of live performance? For too long, we’ve attempted to aggrandize the position of art, music, and musicians, ignoring the importance of the audience in the equation. No wonder so many people don’t draw any distinction between attending live concerts and sitting at home listening through a pair of headphones (or in their car, we can hope not using headphones). I’m all for censuring the boors who insists on trumpeting their inclusion in the experience beyond appropriate measure by inserting rapturous applause either before a composition ends (insert trenchant Stravinski quote here), or worse, in the few seconds allotted at the end of a composition when the full weight of the statement can be fully absorbed and finished off in the silence. The conclusions of some movements and some works actually require hours of silence! And as for performers’ need for feedback, too many ensembles, soloists, and conductors perform as though they don’t need or want it and too few understand what to do with it. Too many performers and audience members are obsessed with utter silence during performance – not a very authentic historic view, and seemingly a misguided goal for those who want to perform before a live audience (insert trenchant Glenn Gould quote here). Ultimately, isn’t the purpose of live artistic performance an opportunity for all involved to grow, to learn, to share? Let’s resolve to educate ourselves and others, performers and audience members in the true aim of art – the rest will work itself out.

  2. As an orchestral oboist and conductor for many years – I’ll take applause whenever I can get it! I also think we should open up a discussion regarding what an orchestra wears for performances, since we now live in a such a “visual” world!

  3. “Too many performers and audience members are obsessed with utter silence during performance – not a very authentic historic view, and seemingly a misguided goal for those who want to perform before a live audience” … You make a good point, but this is something of a slippery slope. You do have to draw the line somewhere, right? For my taste, there’s already quite a bit of extraneous noise at concerts despite the taboo. Sometimes it is distracting and sometimes it isn’t. I wouldn’t want to give audiences carte blanche; trust me, it would be abused, if only by a few (but that’s all it takes).

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