Last evening, I attended a splendorous performance of the Four Seasons by talented American violinist Benjamin Beilman and members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

Transcendental notes, an appealing performance of the ensemble, a virtuoso and elegant lead violinist, but a miserable audience. First, they clapped right after the performance of the third movement of Summer. Apparently, they had no idea there are two more seasons after summer. Second, they were dressed as if attending a BBQ in the park. And that was precisely what added to my nausea. It is an insult to the performers, to the divine music being performed, and the rest of the audience to dress in T-shirts, sneakers, jeans, or sandals, for the love of God. Uncultivated peasantry as such that needs to be confined to the parterre, at best.

What I’ve noticed about this part of the world, Western Canada, is the injurious lack of elegance and etiquette when it comes to classical concerts. On the one hand, the VSO is happy to perform to an audience that would otherwise not show up if a certain attire etiquette were to be imposed. On the other hand, I firmly believe it is far worse to allow hill billies wearing flip-flops to attend early-music concerts, thus offending not only the performers, but also the memory of the grand composers of Western Music.

Shameless, painful, mediocre, pitiful, miserable, and sorrowful; tipping the scale of the transcendental towards the ordinary emotion.

Here’s a simple etiquette to follow:

  1. For matinee concerts, dress up nicely.
  2. For evening concerts, dress up really nicely.
  3. Listen to pieces unfamiliar to you before the performance so you get a flavor of what’s coming, a sense of the tempo, and a sense of when to clap.


Header photo: Chan Centre tage shot during the intermission prior to the performance of Four Seasons, 2018.12.21