Styles of audience

18th September 2011 | Concerts, Musings | 3 comments

Went to the Wigmore Hall to hear American jazz pianist Brad Mehdau in duo with mandolinist Chris Thile. It was a tremendous evening, and also an opportunity to witness quite a different sort of crowd in the Wigmore. They were, I have to admit, younger and cooler than the usual crowd, more like the stylish kind of audience I associate with Sadler’s Wells. When Chris Thile came on stage by himself at the start of the concert, there was a joyful roar of welcome from the capacity audience – a sound I have never heard in the Wigmore before, certainly not at the start of the concert, before the musician has played a single note.

 At the end of the first number, an intriguing blend of soulful song with mandolin pyrotechnics, the audience nearly raised the roof with their cheering and whooping. Over the tumult I shouted to Bob, ‘It never sounds like this at my concerts!’ He shouted back, ‘It’s just a different style of behaviour. Your audiences like your concerts just as much in their own way. They’re just more restrained!’ I tried to hold that thought in my mind for the rest of the evening, and it was a great evening, satisfying in lots of ways. But at the end, as we all yelled for an encore, I found myself weak with envy of the two performers for having this kind of audience in front of them on a regular basis. How I would love to hear that kind of clamour at the end of every piece! I felt like jumping up on my seat as everyone filed out and begging them, ‘Please, please, nice jazz audience, come along to my concerts too!’ Alas, I was too restrained.


  1. violinist

    Bob’s right, we feel the same, we really do. Clapping is such an insufficient way of expressing appreciation. People of a certain age ought to do more shouting and whooping after your performances. (I’m sure there will be lots of clamor at the Wigmore in January.)

  2. Steve Zade

    I have fond memories of a festival of Indian classical music at the university of Benares in 1972. The event brought together the foremost exponents of the sarod, the sitar, the bamboo flute, the glass bead vina, not to mention some excellent singers. In the audience, front rows, were the most eminent of music teachers. In general the concerts started an hour or so late, but nobody seemed to mind. Talking during the concert was considered normal. From time to time the audience, with full-throated music professors to the fore, would roar their approval for a particular take on a raga, for a brilliant solo, for an exchange between musicians. Everything that seemed good was immediately greeted with shouts of approval. The audience reaction could be so infectuous that a concert programmed to last 2 hours would go on for 4 hours, with musical conversations being developed spontaneously around the raga. The performers were evidently transported by the audience reaction.

  3. Roberta Rominger

    Hello Susan,

    That is indeed what we feel! I have been to many of your concerts at the Wigmore Hall and clapped for all I was worth. Thank you!


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