Last August, Eric Edberg, a cellist and professor of music at DePauw University (whence also Scott Spiegelberg), presented a "classical music in jeans" concert, the idea of which was to see what would happen if the audience were told that all rules of "classical etiquette" would be suspended. As you can see from this video clip, the results were pretty startling. Here are Edberg's meditations on his experiment. Worth reading are the comments to this post, in which members of the audience react to the experience. As Edberg concludes, "the more seriously committed, the more deeply in love with music the student I've talked to, the less they liked the audience-participation aspects of the evening. But with colleagues, at least the ones I've encountered, the more concerned they are with the incredibly shrinking audience for classical music, the more enthusiastic they are about the high attendance and the high energy at the concert." Horrified? Delighted? Let the debate rage on. (By the way, the audience for classical music is not "incredibly shrinking." American opera has seen long-term audience growth, and, at most major orchestras, attendance is currently on the rise.)
More: Excellent meditations from Helen Radice, leading to this lovely peroration: "Humanity has always asked and always will ask why we are here, what we are doing and where we are going; that's why we also have religion - and language - and science - and even intense sexual pleasure; all these things are ways in which we connect with ourselves consciously and intensely, and which distinguish us from other animals. Not always in high seriousness; sometimes we just want to enjoy ourselves, and that is human too, and part of music. A real artist knows when to be simple. To be clear, to know yourself and your work and what is really important in such a wide world, and to communicate it so it might help others, takes paradoxically a lot of work, personal conviction and life experience."