Daily Archives: June 18, 2009

How to spoil a good concert

Went to the Plymouth Symphony Orchestra concert at St.Andrews Church last night.  St.Andrews is the main church in central Plymouth[1], and its fine organ makes it a venue for organ+orchestra works[2].  The programme included Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony, and also a Poulenc concerto for organ, strings and timp, along with shorter works by Vaughan Williams and Delius.  Both the Poulenc and the Delius were new to me, and for me the revelation of the evening was the Poulenc.

OK, that makes a good concert.  So what was to spoil it?  Well, two things, both loosely the responsibility of the concert organisers.  They did one thing right, by reminding people to turn off mobile phones.  But on the other hand, a phone going off is a brief irritation, not a long-drawn-out one.  That makes them, comparatively speaking, a trivial side-issue.

First, two St Johns Ambulance ladies, sat by the door.  One was wearing day-glo bright yellow, and something even more reflective (indoors, ferchrissake).  The evening sun shining on it was painfully dazzling in my peripheral vision for much of the first 20 minutes (flashing as she moved).  OK, that only affects a few of us, sitting in a line to the reflected sunlight, but surely she shouldn’t be wearing that stuff indoors!   The hats both St Johns ladies wore throughout were probably also mildly annoying to people sitting behind them.

The second nuisance must’ve affected far more of us – probably a majority of the audience – and for far longer.  Someone was clattering coins.  I’m fairly sure it was front-of-house noisily counting up the takings, amplified by some kind of box, or maybe just a table and surrounding wooden pews, etc.  And just as the ting of the little triangle can penetrate a full orchestra, so can the irritating and unmusical clatter of coins.  Please keep it quiet, or take it outside!

Apart from that, nice concert!

[1] An observation which includes the cathedral.

[2] With more comfortable seating, adequate facilities, and without pillars obscuring lines of sight, it could be a very fine venue.