Concert Etiquette 101: Applause

It isn’t easy to make a well-worn topic fresh and interesting but that’s exactly what Neo Classical author Holly Mulcahy did with her What To Wear To The Symphony post from 12/29/2014 and it seems that climbing one mountain wasn’t enough as she decided to ascend the rocky summit of when to clap.

Adaptistration People 058Granted, we’ve covered those issues here from time to time but not within the last several years and frankly, it feels good to poke out from behind the tinted view of jaded glasses and approach the topic anew. For instance, it is all too easy to jump right to what most feel is the heart of the issue and start talking about applause during the actual performance.

But Mulcahy reminds us that it’s not always about the music and when you’ve had the conversation a thousand times, it becomes that much easier to overlook items new or infrequent ticket buyers are going to be interested in considering.

During the course of a concert, audiences will usually applaud twice before the music even starts. This is the easy part!

  1. Concertmaster enters, clap. The concertmaster bows, representing the orchestra, and then tunes. You can stop clapping once the tuning starts.
  2. Music Director enters, clap. Keep clapping; generally the music director will invite the whole orchestra to stand and share his or her acknowledgment.

Next up is the music…

But just in case you think the entire post is geared exclusively toward newbie patrons, know that Mulcahy includes insight directed toward conductors and hard core audience members (I’m looking at you Mr. Eye Roll and Ms. Shushy).

Read When To Clap At The Symphony: A Guideline

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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