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If you look bored, the audience may hear it


by Olin Chism 21 Feb 2008

Does the way an orchestra looks reflect the sound it makes? Those who have seen great European orchestras on tour or overseas may have noticed that the musicians seem to be more into the music than many of their American counterparts are. I have noticed, in concerts of both the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, a […]

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Does the way an orchestra looks reflect the sound it makes? Those who have seen great European orchestras on tour or overseas may have noticed that the musicians seem to be more into the music than many of their American counterparts are.

I have noticed, in concerts of both the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, a remarkable sense of heightened alertness and artistic camaraderie. In passages involving, say, the woodwinds, the players seem to be having a musical conversation; they even look at each other as they play. This sense of involvement is transmitted to the audience and results in a more exciting performance.

Henry Fogel, former CEO of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, has a more extended discussion of this phenomenon, and compares European and American orchestral atmospheres.

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