Tell Me Something Good: Clapping & Culture in Classical Music

Take a minute to think about how much the nature of music has changed since the 1800s and even earlier. What used to be available only as a spectacular art displayed through live performance is now available through multiple outlets and in many forms. Nowadays you can find music in grocery stores, advertisements, television shows, waiting rooms, and on your computer at work every day. It is more accessible than ever. In THIS article, the Chicago Tribune discusses a ritual in the world of classical music – waiting until the end of a musical piece to applaud. While some musicians, conductors, and audience members may not mind a more casual approach to applause, it is still considered by many to be an essential part of classical music’s emotional culture.

 

The article mentions a standout performance from the Rome Opera conducted by Riccardo Muti, in which the audience applause after the Hebrew slaves’ chorus “Va, pensiero” was exceptionally persistent. When it finally quieted down, Muti spoke to the audience of the importance of preserving Italian culture. He even asked the chorus to repeat “Va, pensiero” with the accompaniment of the audience, shown in the video below, in which you can see many chorus members visibly moved by the end of the performance. I don’t know about you guys, but this gave me goosebumps. Whether you are a long-time fan of classical music performances or a newbie who may want to consider checking out a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (or another exceptional ensemble), follow your heart when it comes to applause.

 

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