Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Too Funny. Too Much Coughing.

At a recent Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert there was too much coughing from the audience.

The maestro, feeling frustrated, walked offstage after a movement in a piece then walked back in with two handfuls of cough drops which he proceeded to toss out into the audience asking for them to be passed to the ones who needed them.

This was received with laughter and applause and that is a good thing.


Too often audience members are not aware of how distracting some actions are during a concert. Even the littlest sound is magnified when the audience is quiet and when you are in an acoustically designed room.

[I, myself, have had to ask audiences to remained seated, be quiet, etc during concerts. It is awkward to say the least, but I would rather do that than have my students' hard work be ruined.]

Back to the topic of funny...

While the Maestro having to shush the audience is not funny, the musical puns that have been posted on various messageboards made me laugh.

Clever, clever audience members.

Those who are musically minded will "get" most of these.

Those who are not: most statements are a play on either the composer's name or a famous piece of music.

"Must have been a TchaiCoughsky Concert."

"Lawsuits pending from the Dept. of Putting Somebody’s Eye Out! in 3…2…1…."


"I think it was a Mahleria outbreak."

"What would John Cage say! There goes the soundscape!!!!!!"
"The encore was by Elliott Catarrh."
"May I suggest that coughing is purposeful. Even if unconscious, it is still ostensibly a revolt against aesthetics by boors. Can’t fight them, though. M.T.Thomas [the maestro] should build coughing into the concert and say to the crowd, “Whenever I turn toward you, that’s your signal to cough, clear your throat, relieve your flatulence, stand up and block the view, kick the seat in front of you, walk in late, slam the door, unwrap candy or talk over the music.” Did I miss anything? Yes,I know, I’m too up-tight!"
"An appropriate concert programme for such cases is:
  • Brahms: A-cough-phlegmic Festival Overture
  • Glazunov: The Sneezers
  • Doppler: Concerto in D minor for two Flus and Orchestra
  • Stravinsky: The Feverbird (suite)
And as encores, in order:
  • Busoni: Intermezzo from Doktor Faust
  • Berlioz: Symphonie Pharmacique – IV

The lesson behind this, dear readers, is if you have a really bad cold or cough it is perhaps more considerate to forego the concert than to disrupt the performance.

If you feel you must go, and I do understand concert tickets can be costly, please take cough drops with you AND unwrap them before you get to the theater and put them in a small baggie - you would not believe how LOUD those wrappers are in a quiet concert hall. 

And perhaps you might carry even a small bottle of water that can be hidden in one's purse or pocket.

And take along a handkerchief.  Yes, those things that older men carry in their back pockets and those things that we girls were taught how to iron with.

Lacking a handkerchief (everyone should have at least one) take something that you can cough into which will not only protect those around you from flying germs, but also will hopefully muffle the sound.
Etiquette lesson over.
Now, enjoy this winter's seasons of concerts!

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