How to get everyone engaged in a musical performance

This video of an orchestra’s performance is a reminder of the roles of the orchestra, the director and the audience.

About 50 seconds into the video, members of the audience start clapping.

This wasn’t the applause that happens when an individual musician takes a lead in the performance and received a round of applause after the solo. This wasn’t the accidental clapping when audience members don’t know that the song isn’t completed. This was – potentially – disruptive clapping that could distract the musicians.

The director – without missing a beat, so to speak – turned from the orchestra to the audience to cue them to continue to clap but in rhythm with his direction. Then with a hand gesture, he signaled that the clapping should stop. And it did.

For the rest of the song, he directed the orchestra with the baton in one hand and directed the audience with his other hand. And he used great nuance with big hand gestures and small.

The performance became like a game, with everyone getting into it. The audience clapped (and whistled) – following the director’s signals…clapping louder, quieter or stopping. The orchestra played with some musicians smiling or shaking their heads in response to this unexpected involvement of the audience.

The director, although very formal in his appearance, was open to improvising on the spot.

Musicians often recognize the audience’s desire to be part of the performance.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain sometimes encouraged fans to bring their ukuleles to the performance and included a song audience members were encouraged to play with them.

Some performers encourage the audience to join in singing with them.

And being part of the performance can make the experience more memorable for the audience. But when such participation isn’t planned, it requires a resourceful musician or director (in this case) to incorporate the audience.

[That looks like a 20-36 string kantele in the orchestra directly in front of the director’s musical stand.]

One comment

  1. Very interesting. I have been bored by the cold atmosphere at some classical concerts I have been to but annoyed by clapping interrupting the flow of music at some jazz concerts.


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