“Please turn off all cell phones, pagers………etc.” This is what we hear at the beginning of performances at the NAC and other concert venues. It is a sad sign of the times. For nine years of Cantiamo concerts I have never had to make this announcement as I believe it should just go without saying. After our Christmas concert experience, I am compelled to address audience etiquette at our concerts. For the first time ever, I had some audience members remark to me that people near them were very noisy and distracting during the performance. One person (perhaps there were more but I only heard about one) was even using a phone to text during the concert. I had to agree about the noise as I was also distracted from focusing on the choir and the music and at one point nearly decided to stop and wait for the attention that the choir deserved before continuing. I did not want to embarrass anyone so I decided to carry on with the music and address this before our next concert. As I was cleaning up the church after the concert, I was crawling around on the floor picking up bits of popcorn, raisins and cheerios. This was also a first for a Cantiamo concert.
As you will have read in my writing about my philosophy of our choir, the focus is on the bigger picture. Included in this picture are our performances. Our goal is to be as professional as possible and as artistically excellent as possible and still have a relaxed and enjoyable time sharing our music. This is not a concert of “cute kids” singing silly songs and it is not a “school” concert which these days in many schools unfortunately means it is a bit of a zoo. My expectation of the choristers is that they will perform with poise and focus and sing to the best of their ability to share their learning and love of music with the audience. My expectation of the audience members is that they will engage attentively and support the art and artists to the best of their ability by being present to the moment at hand. If there are things that will distract from the artistic experience (such as electronic devices or young children who are not able to sit quietly for a concert) then they must not come in to the concert venue.
In practical terms, we are guests in our performance venues and it is imperative that we appreciate and respect the space. Churches are revered places of worship and we are fortunate to be able to perform in these spaces. It is expected that we will not bring food and drink (water excepted) into these spaces and that we will leave things exactly as they were before our concert. Also, our concerts are recorded for archival purposes. Often times, a piece is sung most beautifully when it is being shared with a live audience. We are always working towards producing another CD and it would be ideal if the audience noise was at a minimum so that some of the recordings from our concerts could be used on a CD. This is a big cost saver as we do not have to pay the many costs of a separate recording session.
It is wonderful that our audience has grown and we are able to fill the church and share our music with so many people. Let us all teach by our example and let our children see that we are considerate, appreciative, and fully present to be moved by the beauty and power of the joy of singing.
– Jackie Hawley, Choir Director