Friday, November 15, 2013

Audience Review: Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians

Most music reviews focus on the musicians and the pieces they play, but not this one, oh no.

This review is of the audience to last weekend's performance of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank.

There seems to have been a change in policy at the RFH and it now seems to be ok to eat and drink during a performance, and the lads to my right were taking advantage of this.

They had some wine and some cups and when the latter was empty they'd be whispers along the line and gurgle of liquid from a bottle followed by drinking. Or maybe not, for the chap next to me spilt some on his shirt which then had to be brushed off, leaving an aroma of a late night wine bar. The whispers about refills were added to by others about the technique of the percussionists, which apparently couldn't wait until the end.

On my left were two women who carefully bought their ice creams at the end of the interval so they could eat during the concert. When they finished they drunk from their water bottles. My understanding is that the human body is able to survive without drinking water every five minutes, but my neighbour seemed to take another view.

In the row in front was a little girl about seven I guess and her dad who thought that an hour and ten minute work of minimalism was at nine in the evening just the thing for his daughter. She was as you might expect restless, moving between her seat and his lap, with urgent whisperings to and fro.

But at least she was better than the couple directly in front of me, for I think he had ADD. He was unable to sit still for more than 60 seconds, being constantly figtiting, whispering to his companion, scratching himself, scratching her, kissing her, reading the programme, waving himself with his programme, and then videoing chunks of the concert with his phone.

I thought that that too was something that the RFH frowned on, but maybe concentrating on the music and listening to it isn't their priority any more.

As to the actual music and performance, well I really can't tell you anything useful, as I seem to miss large chunks of it.

My recommendation from the evening is to avoid the RFH and instead watch the piece undisturbed in full in HD - on YouTube.

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