This is not a Milkshake "Wow!"
May 10, 2019 1:48 PM   Subscribe

On Sunday, The Handel And Haydn Society orchestra was performing at the Boston Symphony Hall. Just after the final rest of Mozart’s “Masonic Funeral Music,” an unseen kid yelled out “wow!” in apparently unvarnished appreciation of what he’d just heard. Everyone laughed and applauded the moment. This is nice on its own merits. A child, caught up in the joy of hearing beautiful music, didn’t sit silently like everyone else in attendance, but broke symphony tradition, which allowed the rest of the audience to follow suit. It gets better, though. posted by Johnny Wallflower (53 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
 
h/t Fizz
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:48 PM on May 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


There's so much joy in this, it's so pure, you can hear the wonder and the beauty of that moment. And I'm glad it exists.
posted by Fizz at 1:49 PM on May 10, 2019 [20 favorites]


Wow, indeed.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:53 PM on May 10, 2019


<3
posted by praemunire at 1:53 PM on May 10, 2019


I literally opened Metafilter to post this! It’s such a charming story. I was tickled by the heading of the query the orchestra put out: “Do you know the ‘wow’ child?”

How wonderful that the reaction of the orchestra and audience was pure delight at the joy this child was expressing about the music. It’s neat that they’ve identified him and are inviting him to meet the artistic director!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:56 PM on May 10, 2019 [6 favorites]


and, in the end, nothing really sucks about how things turned out.

Imagine, in 2019!
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:57 PM on May 10, 2019 [33 favorites]


and, in the end, nothing really sucks about how things turned out.

Imagine, in 2019!


SSSShhhhhhhssssss, 2020 will hear you.
posted by Fizz at 1:58 PM on May 10, 2019 [14 favorites]


Oh man, I needed this story. Thanks.
posted by gwint at 2:04 PM on May 10, 2019 [1 favorite]


That was great, thank you for the share!
posted by Caduceus at 2:05 PM on May 10, 2019


This made me teary
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:21 PM on May 10, 2019 [9 favorites]


a Wow! signal from another world
posted by Countess Elena at 2:37 PM on May 10, 2019 [12 favorites]


I love this story, and it reminds me why live performance sometimes provides moments of sheer transcendence. Awesome post.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:38 PM on May 10, 2019 [5 favorites]


A few years back I attended a performance of the Silk Road Ensemble, featuring Yo-Yo Ma of course.

For the encore, Ma came out on stage alone and performed the Bach Prelude. The sound that rustled through the crowd when he played the first couple of notes was as close as I've ever seen a symphony audience come to the kind of roar you hear when the Foo Fighters kick into "Everlong" at a live show. In that moment, I definitely wished it was more decorous to hoot and holler.
posted by dry white toast at 2:45 PM on May 10, 2019 [24 favorites]


I have very distinct memories of going to Symphony Hall when I was about that age (my parents had a subscription for something like 20 years), and could easily believe I'd have done something like that.

Then again, my really fun Symphony Hall memory from when I was a kid came about because my closest friend growing up was the son of the then-1st French Horn for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and therefore my friend (and by extension, me) were tolerated to sneak around and, provided we weren't disruptive, plunk our butts in empty seats. Which meant that, the one time I did this with said friend (something more than 20 years ago), for the second half of that night's performance, we snagged seats in the first row, symphony level, basically right behind the conductor.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 2:57 PM on May 10, 2019 [4 favorites]


I used to go to Hong Kong movies on Saturday mornings with an ex, who occasionally hosted one of his friends’ children for a weekend to give the parents a break. On one such weekend, we checked that the movie was at least vaguely appropriate for an 8 or 9 year old and went. It was a terrible movie — too long, hard to follow, and boring. The audience sat stoically through the mess until the last 15 minutes when a romance plot was forced into the brief-but-bloated story. The young lad sighed loudly in the stonily-quiet theater, and said, with weary pre-teen disgust, “oh no, kissing!” The theater erupted with laughter.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:59 PM on May 10, 2019 [18 favorites]


I used to be a season subscriber to the Charlotte Symphony, and the crowd there dutifully gave a standing ovation to every old warhorse the orchestra would haul out. One time, for some reason, they played John Adams' "Short Ride In A Fast Machine" and as soon as they finished I leapt to my feet with a "Wooo!", then looked around me at the mostly befuddled audience politely clapping. I blushed, but in retrospect I regret nothing.
posted by Daily Alice at 3:10 PM on May 10, 2019 [52 favorites]


:')
posted by k8bot at 3:19 PM on May 10, 2019


Goddam dust in this room.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 3:34 PM on May 10, 2019 [2 favorites]


Oh, lovely. Gotta tell this to one of my cello pals, who has a son on the spectrum who once distinguished himself by announcing "Thanks for your hard work!" in a moment of silence at his great-grandfather's funeral, lightening the atmosphere considerably.
I would be so thrilled as a performer if anyone was moved to yell "Wow!" at one of our concerts... .
posted by huimangm at 3:58 PM on May 10, 2019 [27 favorites]


i was going to guess "owen wilson"
posted by entropicamericana at 4:37 PM on May 10, 2019 [12 favorites]


My high school drama class was taken to a performance of "The Merchant of Venice" in SF, apparently a special matinee for HS students. The audience was generally well behaved, but was clearly sitting on seats edge during the court sceene. When Shylock at last got his comeuppance the audience cheered like it was a sporting event. It was so real and spontaneous even as a kid I was amazed. Like, who in the building didn't know what was coming? And yet the troupe did such a great job they made it all new again and the swept the room away. I always wished I could have asked the actors if they'd ever had a loud emotional reaction to classic work before. I like to think they felt like the musicians in this story apparently did
posted by cccorlew at 4:48 PM on May 10, 2019 [25 favorites]


Awesome.

On a related note, relaxed performances are increasingly becoming a thing, and they're really great to attend:

Relaxed performances are intended specifically to be sensitive to and welcoming of patrons who may benefit from a more relaxed environment, including, but not limited to, those on the autism spectrum, with sensory and communication disorders, or people living with learning and/or developmental delays or disabilities. There is a more casual-than-usual approach to front-of-house etiquette and we ask all audience members to be aware of people's needs to move or make noise. If you need to move around a bit, make some noise, leave the concert hall and take a break in the quiet room, you are welcome to.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:14 PM on May 10, 2019 [39 favorites]


I saw the Handel & Haydn Society last fall. As the musicians prepared for Bach's Double Violin Concerto, the conductor bowed briefly and walked off the stage, leaving the first violin in charge. The piece was (too) fast but exhilarating and emotional. When the third movement rocketed to a close, the audience let out an elated whoop and jumped to their feet. It was one of the most joyous responses to a classical performance I'd ever seen -- very "Wow!"
posted by swerve at 5:40 PM on May 10, 2019 [7 favorites]


cccorlew, student matinees are a thing that most professional theater companies do. As an actor, I dread them a little bit because they are usually scheduled for 11am or even 10am, which is tough on a group of people used to working evenings. But that dread is always outweighed by the aliveness of a young audience. A show that plays one way to a regualr theater crowd will play verrrrry differently to a bunch of kids and teenagers, and it is never less than revelatory.
posted by minervous at 6:11 PM on May 10, 2019 [15 favorites]


Can't stop smiling. As a performer, there's no better feeling than knowing you actually affected somebody. Wow, indeed!

(I'll never forget the one year I walked with the local Shakespeare company I've performed with a few times, in our local festival parade. At one spot on the route, we could hear a bunch of little kids calling out, "YAY SHAKESPEARE!!")
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:22 PM on May 10, 2019 [19 favorites]


Can I like this without liking the attending “gosh, why are classical concerts so stuffy?!” undertone? It’s great that this kid expressed his excitement but it’s also not a bad thing that there’s a tradition of doing things like not talking during the music and I’m going to continue to be annoyed at concert audiences who want to just react like plain folks to the extent of treating the concert hall like their living room. I like that we generally don’t do that.
posted by Smearcase at 7:34 PM on May 10, 2019 [11 favorites]


This fits in perfectly with my campaign to drown out OutrageFilter with FeelGoodFilter posts on the Blue! Thank you! My heart was warmed and my cup of joy was filled. Wow, indeed!
posted by hippybear at 7:43 PM on May 10, 2019 [6 favorites]


MetaFilter: I’m going to continue to be annoyed
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:56 PM on May 10, 2019 [33 favorites]


Regarding "stuffiness", there's a range between "don't talk while the musicians are playing" and "if you applaud between symphony movements or at other 'inappropriate' times you will be looked down on as uneducated and uncivilized". This seems to be more about the latter than the former.

(For context, my family is lousy with classical musicians; Bach makes my heart soar; and if I never have to sit through the Nutcracker again it will be way too soon.)
posted by Lexica at 7:57 PM on May 10, 2019 [8 favorites]


Bum, bum... ba-dum dum dum, dum DAAA-da bum dum DUUUM dum!
posted by hippybear at 8:14 PM on May 10, 2019 [1 favorite]


I’m going to continue to be annoyed at concert audiences who want to just react like plain folks to the extent of treating the concert hall like their living room. I like that we generally don’t do that.

I agree with you on this one, basically--my ideal both as a performer (amateur) and a listener would be "quiet attentive listening while the music is actually happening, genuine reaction to it, loud or soft, after it's done".
posted by huimangm at 9:55 PM on May 10, 2019 [3 favorites]


My ideal is "transfixed by performance, utter expression of unfettered joy when done".

Also, at non-classical performances, "singing along because you memorized this thing either last week or 30 years ago and it means a shit-ton to you and singing it loud in a singing crowd is catharsis of whatever sort you need."

Yes, I go see both NIN and local symphonies. There is etiquette for all situations.

A 9 year old saying "wow" in a moment of silence is something I would thrill to hear at any performance I was attending.
posted by hippybear at 10:01 PM on May 10, 2019 [5 favorites]


(imagining if operas had singing-along like rock shows do, and feeling a little bit thrilled at the idea)
posted by hippybear at 10:03 PM on May 10, 2019 [13 favorites]


The Dallas Symphony creates programs for younger audiences, like they'll do a Merry Melodies performance, iirc with the cartoons, but it may have just been costumed characters at the beginning...it's been a while since Boy was the target audience. But he loved it, and his symphony experiences led to him performing in band, and jazz band. (Until high school made marching band mandatory, and he couldn't do band and anything else, so he dropped band. Sad trombone.)
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:42 PM on May 10, 2019


Kids are often really fun to play for because they have no filter and react immediately and emotively. I played in a Shostakovich symphony (11?) for a primary-middle school. We did the last movement and it builds up and ends in a huge long climax, and in the last minute or so when the noise becomes a huge enveloping wall a kid started screaming in excitement (AHHHHHHH) along with it lost in the sheer noise, and no one realised until the playing stopped and his brakes didn't kick in and he kept going, and everyone in the hall burst into laughter.
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 12:37 AM on May 11, 2019 [32 favorites]


imagining if operas had singing-along like rock shows do, and feeling a little bit thrilled at the idea)

The guy who sat behind me at La Boheme last year definitely thought there was a sing along portion. It would have been fine except he was right behind me and making it hard for me to hear the actual people I’d bought a ticket to hear sing. It was nice he knew the words tho.
posted by sio42 at 1:48 AM on May 11, 2019 [4 favorites]


For many reasons, this has me in tears.
posted by 41swans at 5:28 AM on May 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


imagining if operas had singing-along like rock shows do

See Riccardo Muti's encore of "Va Pensiero" at the Opera di Roma, previously on MetaFilter.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:36 AM on May 11, 2019


Phantom would be fan-tastic for a sing-along... just sayin'
posted by JoeXIII007 at 8:52 AM on May 11, 2019


cccorlew, student matinees are a thing that most professional theater companies do. As an actor, I dread them a little bit because they are usually scheduled for 11am or even 10am, which is tough on a group of people used to working evenings. But that dread is always outweighed by the aliveness of a young audience. A show that plays one way to a regualr theater crowd will play verrrrry differently to a bunch of kids and teenagers, and it is never less than revelatory.
posted by minervous at 9:11 PM on May 10


I work at an arts center and was lucky enough to attend a matinee of Hamilton only for high school students. Now Hamilton audiences are not particularly quiet because you cannot sit quietly during that fabulous show. But these students reacted more than the other audiences I've been in. They screamed and hollered and during the Cabinet Rap Battles there was a lot of calling out of "BURRRN!" and "Did he SAY that!?" They were students who had studied Hamilton and the American Revolution so they knew exactly what was going on. As minervous says, they were so ALIVE and had one of the best times in a theater I have ever seen. I want to see Hamilton with a theater full of teens every time from now on.
posted by bijou243 at 8:54 AM on May 11, 2019 [11 favorites]


It's funny how performances develop very different behavioral expectations for the audience, like the "obligatory standing ovation," which seems to an outsider such as myself to be a real head-scratcher. What do you do to recognize an excellent performance in that case?

One such that I find especially galling is the "American public school" expectation amongst a large minority that it is okay to hoot and whistle whenever your child scratches their ass or does anything otherwise notable, without waiting for the end of the piece. I am a pretty socially-liberal guy, but I think I would favor mandatory caning in that case, just to strengthen the social compact.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 9:21 AM on May 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


The rule for classical music is absolute silence until the piece is finished, including between movements. In theory. In real life the space between movements seems to be used for people to cough, shift around in their seats, unwrap candy, and rustle their programs. But woe betide the philistine who uses that space to clap. For jazz, you're supposed to clap when someone plays a good solo. (For school jazz band, this is modified to "whenever anyone plays a solo.") For rock, pretty much anything goes, and if nobody is stepping on you, pouring their beer on you, or blowing smoke directly in your face, count yourself lucky.

Most of the time now I listen to recorded music at home by myself, where there are no behavioral expectations. Less fun but also less anxiety-producing.
posted by Daily Alice at 10:59 AM on May 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


(imagining if operas had singing-along like rock shows do, and feeling a little bit thrilled at the idea)

As long as I do not ever, ever have to be at that, it's a lovely idea! I go to the opera to hear people who sing way better than I do(and way better than the rando sitting beside me.) I can sing along with a recording at home but I definitely have separate places in my life for participatory art forms and spectatorial ones.
posted by Smearcase at 7:55 PM on May 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


Indigo Girls concerts are great because the audiences always have tons of good singers.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:01 PM on May 11, 2019 [2 favorites]


(imagining if operas had singing-along like rock shows do, and feeling a little bit thrilled at the idea)
You could always pop along to an Eisteddfod.
posted by fullerine at 11:19 PM on May 11, 2019


I once attended a symphony that was putting on a “neighborhood appreciation” night. Neighborhoods were given blocks of tickets to give out to members of the community, especially to people who wouldn’t normally be able to afford a ticket, and the guests of honor all sat in the area behind the performers, visible to the rest of the audience.

Partway through the evening, we started hearing snoring noises accompanying the orchestra. You can guess what had happened: an elderly gentleman’s companion had excused herself to the restroom, and he couldn’t keep himself from drifting off to the music. Bouts of snoring occurred repeatedly, and each time, someone from the audience would get up the courage to nudge him awake, but the guy just couldn’t maintain wakefulness. I think he was so sleepy, he wasn’t really even aware of what was going on. (Can’t blame him—I’ve been there during my sleep-deprived university days.) But he must have had some lovely dreams. Certainly made for a memorable concert experience!
posted by mantecol at 12:52 AM on May 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


"The audience was generally well behaved, but was clearly sitting on seats edge during the court sceene. When Shylock at last got his comeuppance the audience cheered like it was a sporting event. It was so real and spontaneous even as a kid I was amazed. "

I saw Shakespeare at the Globe in London as a groundling -- As You Like It -- and I've seen a lot of Shakespeare in a variety of settings, but seeing it as a groundling was a WHOLE different experience. I didn't think I'd be able to stand up the whole time but it was SO ENGROSSING that I completely forgot I was standing, and you are so wrapped up in the play standing right there that it's completely natural to cheer and jeer and react noisily. (And they plant a few jesters in the audience to a) entertain the groundlings during intermission and b) encourage noisy reacting as okay (and also c) do usher things if someone needs help).)

Saw it again sitting in the seats, and it was totally different, it was like politely sitting at a theater watching a play. But being a groundling was like living the play as it happened. I knew exactly what was going to happen, but I was almost trembling with suspense and laughing uproariously at jokes that were somehow six times funnier and cheering for the romance and the whole nine yards.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:18 AM on May 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


As a person on the autism spectrum, I can totally see how the kid would react that way. I've gone to many symphony and orchestra performances since my diagnosis & it's always usually been intense for me, although often intense in the best possible way. Autism often co-exists with hyperacute hearing, and when I hear an orchestral performance in an acoustically well-designed auditorium, I can often hear several instruments very intensely at the same time, even to the point that I can hear a single trumpet go flat, even though I have nowhere near perfect pitch as a singer. I wouldn't be surprised if the nine-year-old had similar experiences when listening to orchestral works. It's very common for people on the spectrum to be really strong in at least one area dealing with pattern recognition. So maybe music is what is most special for this kid.
posted by jonp72 at 12:38 PM on May 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


Indigo Girls concerts are great because the audiences always have tons of good singers.

I could write a full length book about seeing Indigo Girls in concert, but I will just here now relate this one thing: I went to see them at Oregon Zoo in Portland a few years ago, and ended up in the area right beneath the stage where you can stand up and "do your thing" during the show, and they had put Ghost on the set-list, and for some reason, somehow, even after living with that song for decades, IT FUCKING HIT ME. I have a hole in my heart the exact shape of a specific person, and I found myself in uncontrollable tears, like literally breaking down in public in the crowd at the front of a sold-out concert. And suddenly, there were arms around me. And then more arms, and more and more. This group of women were all surrounding me with their love and support. And they were all women. And I'm (at the time) in my late 40s with a giant grey beard. And I was being held up and fed love from complete strangers.

It was one of the most remarkable moments in my life. First, because that song cut to my soul in a way I wasn't expecting, and second, because this army of IG fans swarmed me with love and support in that moment.

I think they knew... (oh shit I'm crying while I type this) I think they all had this moment at some point with some IG song themselves either in private or public, and they saw me, and they knew. IG is like that.
posted by hippybear at 12:53 PM on May 12, 2019 [18 favorites]


Thank you for sharing that, hippybear. *sniff*
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:45 PM on May 12, 2019


"obligatory standing ovation,"

I've been around live classical music and theater from a very young age, and I've never heard of an obligatory standing ovation being standard for any kind of performance. Yes, once the first group of people stands, there is definitely peer pressure for the rest of the audience to follow suit. But I firmly believe that there is no expectation of a standing O, except possibly in the mind of the person/people who chooses to start it at that particular event.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:22 PM on May 12, 2019


It seems to be obligatory for popular music concerts.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:23 AM on May 13, 2019


I think they all had this moment at some point with some IG song themselves either in private or public, and they saw me, and they knew. IG is like that.

This has happened to me, with that song even. Sometimes, you just get *seen* and it's amazing.
posted by ApathyGirl at 3:09 PM on May 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


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