Last night, I went to a concert of classical woodwind chamber music played by young soloists from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. I was unfamiliar with any of the three pieces played: Mozart’s Quintet for Piano, Oboe, Horn and Bassoon KV452: F. Schubert’s The Shepherd On The Rock: Ludwig Thuille’s Sextet Op.6 ( video).
The Victoria Concert Hall, a modern acoustic shell within a grand Victorian marbled edifice, holds 1,000 people. About 100 of us had paid just S$3 for our evening’s entertainment. Yet, for all the youthfulness of the performers and the clubby feel engendered by we aficionados, the etiquette of the occasion was not relaxed.
There is a musical snobbery amongst classical music concert goers; there is none of the exuberance or immediate appreciation shown at jazz or rock concerts. A quietness, as if in a puritan church, pervades. The audience shows a reverence for the music which I don’t feel is appropriate. The gavotte movement of Thuille’s Sextet, for example had fine ensemble playing and moments of wry humour in the responses between players. I wanted to alternately laugh – or, at least, chuckle – and applaud. The music we heard was composed by courtiers, perhaps jesters: it was written to be enjoyed publicly.
I had noticed before that it is only in classical music concerts that a throat tickle becomes an embarrassing choking cough, as if people have forgotten how to breath properly. The hush of a breath taken in catches. Maybe shallow breathing reflects shallow thinking.
There were passages last night when my mind floated. Like a dinghy adrift on a slow moving stream, thoughts wandered and eddied where they would. Conscious of the pastoral moment, there was little need to explore every nuance and ripple.
All was of a peace.