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Ditching the Intermission?

In a recent article at radiotimes.com, British pianist Stephen Hough addressed the issue of shrinking and ageing classical music audiences. Admitting that it’s a complicated issue, and acknowledging that many ideas have been floated – better education, more creative repertoire, lower pricing etc – he went on to focus on one of the more practical aspects of the subject: the intermission.

On tour, Hough has noticed that the default starting time for concerts can be very different, depending on which country you are in. But one common thing is the 20-minute intermission: “Who decided that a concert should last roughly two hours with a gap in the middle so we feel we’re getting our money’s worth?” During one of his recent performances, slightly shorter than average and without the usual loo break, Hough felt that the concert hall was charged with a special energy:

“When you play for an appreciative, concentrating audience, there can be a cumulative emotional effect in the hall as you all enter the powerful world of a composer’s mind and heart. An interval’s descent to chit-chat can bring everyone down to earth with a bump and then require the engines to be started up all over again.”

The suggestion that we should consider removing the intermission has sparked a lively discussion. Some have been slightly alarmed by the fact that a person like Hough would want classical concerts to be shorter. Others, like the “Cross-Eyed Pianist” Frances Wilson have pointed out that these ideas are hardly new – tradition is already changing, and there is a lot of experimenting going on, “from rush-hour concerts at 6.30pm to Wigmore Lates, 45-minute lunchtime concerts or lecture-recitals.”

Another thoughtful response came from blogger Andrew Eales (Pianodao), who noted an apparent contradiction in Hough’s article: “On the one hand he seems to rail against the established norm of the 7.30pm concert, while on the other hand praising the success of Proms concerts which follow that pattern to a tee.” Eales went on to suggest that real challenge “is not to offer a novel concert schedule, but to help generate a lasting enthusiasm for the music we love”.

What are your thoughts? Are concerts without intermission better, or could the break in the middle be more important than we think? Would more or less people find their way to concert halls if we ditched the intermission?

Please post your comments below and cast your vote in the poll!

Which type of piano recital do you prefer?

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/david

  1. Mike Says:

    I suspect many venues will want to make extra money from overpriced drinks during intermission.

  2. Julia Says:

    In fact, in the intervals I do not descend to chit-chat, I just need a little pause, like in the music, to take a breath (as I nearly forget how to breathe during good concerts). But 1h of music will definitely not be enough for me.

  3. Jeniffer Ellem Says:

    I attended a Piers Lane Recital in Brisbane – Chopin, I think ? – where he asked for no applause between pieces …. so we could all dwell on what we had heard and experienced, without breaking the moment, before the next – moment. It was lovely …. and much thunderous applause at the last for such beautiful music and superb playing.

    No intervals, I say, and maybe even no applause (unless there is a contrast in style when musician and audience need a break).

  4. Janet Says:

    I organize concerts and generally speaking their duration is about 1 hour (max. 1 hr 15 minutes) with no interval unless the artists specifically requests. I would be scared that my audience wouldn’t come back (and give their donation as it is free admission)!!! The most important thing is for the audience to appreciate the music,

  5. francis pettitt Says:

    Don’t get this. I was bowled over by Beethoven 9 at age 14. Aging population? In Italy where I live concerts are attended by all ages. Many are free and they dont start until after 21.00.

  6. Joan Says:

    For reasons I’ll not go into here – and I do not mean the over-priced concessions – I find the intermission very handy. I would probably attend fewer concerts if they were shorter in duration with no break. The intermission also gives me a chance to socialize with a few friends who also attend the same concerts.

  7. Vesna Says:

    I do agree with the opinion that a shorter concert could be more appealing, because we are facing a shrinking attention span of our contemporary audience.
    I would also like to address another issue and that is the importance of a carefully selected repertoire that keeps the attention and builds the atmosphere gradually, leading towards finale.
    I believe that an hour of a well selected music repertoire without a break/intermission is more that justified. But, the price of the tickets has to be reduced to reflect reduced time and to make concerts more affordable.

  8. Manfred Kremer Says:

    As for me, I need the break. One reason is to go to the toilet, it would be disturbing for others to go in the middle of the performance. And also the break helps to “digest” the music, before concentrating again in the second part.

  9. Graeme Says:

    I like break so as to be able to take in the music and it’s effect. More often than not, I stay in my seat, close my eyes and just think about the music I have heard . When I listen to music at home, I like a pause between items. Otherwise it just becomes Musak, a continuous background music with no deeper meaning.

  10. Emilie Bova Says:

    Two hours is too long for me to sit even with intermission. I find under an hour and a half is all the piano music I can take in at a time, and I love piano repertoire.

  11. J. R. Butler Says:

    After a long or busy day my eyelids often start to droop shortly before a concert’s .intermission. The break gives me a chance to walk around and come back awake for the second half. More afternoon concerts would be helpful also, on weekends.

  12. Mike B Says:

    The issue is not whether there’s an intermission or not.
    It’s whether the performer by :-
    Firstly – choice of programme promotes an interest for his/her audience (customers).
    and, most importantly,
    secondly) whether he/she is able to hold their attention by his/her performance of those chosen pieces.

    The audience has already come part of the way by choosing to put their hand in their pocket/purse when they see the programme (has it been carefully chosen and put together) Does it sound interesting.
    It is then up to the performer to reach out to the audience through the instrument to ‘pull in and hold’ the audiences attention.
    Simples.
    Today’s audience has a myriad ways of receiving their ‘music fix’ ; it is up to the performer to put a satisfying package together to compete with these alternatives.
    Any other discussion is BS – and misses the essential fundamentals of providing entertaining music.
    End of.

  13. Kay Says:

    I have also noticed at Wigmore hall the aging audience. Not always, sometimes there are young people looking like music students supporting their colleague or a teacher. I think we can all have a toilet break before the concert starts. Than we do not need to applaud, as suggested, and have a little silent pause for reflexion, again as suggested. Personally I find concert breaks boring, the place is crowded, cannot hear anyone to speak to anyway.

  14. Pat Says:

    I, too, need that chance for a break without disturbing others in the middle of a performance. It is also important for me to keep my concentration at its highest level. A long break doesn’t seem that necessary for audience or performer.

  15. Ruth Colvin Says:

    I think this depends on the programme and the people in the audience, it is not a one size fits all question. Venues and performers should experiment and see what works for them. I am sure that the point about sales of drink is important and also that shorter concerts would need lower ticket prices which will not be a runner if the venues are to survive.

  16. endelbendel Says:

    Nope. We need the break. So does the performer.

  17. Portsmouth music club Says:

    High profile musicians are very expensive to book! To reduce ticket prices, the arts need a lot of patrons and sponsors. Shorter concerts may be the answer. Breaks are essential, particularly if children attend concerts. There’s no quick fixes to the problem unfortunately.

  18. Elisabeth Says:

    Nowadays I travel (often a very long way) to join my artist of choice. So, would I be content, after many hours of travel, to share a cup of coffee or a drink and appetizer? Not likely. A good, long dinner and fine conversation, preferably followed by a second similar rendezvous several days later–that always makes me happy (and keeps me coming back).

  19. Mark DiPaolo Says:

    The 2-hour concert with a 20 minute intermission is a dinosaur.

    The ideal configuration is a 60 minute concert followed by a longer highly interactive reception featuring food, drink and discussion of the music and the performance with the artists present.

    For an even better more intimate setting, the performances should return to the Parisian salon format, where multiple performers were separated by eating, drinking, discussion, and lectures—so much more satisfying, relaxing and substantive.

  20. Roger Levin Says:

    I often go to just half of the concert anyway. If there is a piano concerto eg I will go to that half and skip the other programming. It also works better for the evening because then my wife and I can go for late dinner/drinks after. A 7;30 or even 8 start can make dinner before feel rushed, and if concert goes to 10 that’s a little late to eat!

  21. Rodney Anderson Says:

    I prefer the shorter concert with no intermission. I do believe an educational introduction to the performance of each selection is quite impressive when I have experienced it.
    The idea of a short reception with refreshments and comments from the performer after the concert is quite appealing.

  22. Cindy Says:

    In my area, opportunities to attend quality concerts are very infrequent. If I were in NYC or other cultural mega center, I might feel differently, but when I attend an event I want to totally be immersed and “gorge” on the musical feast! I would (and do) think twice about the very long drive, terribly ill-managed traffic problems endemic to my area, finding parking, childcare arrangements, etc. etc.– all for a mere one hour?? No, I want time to relax, let the experience envelope me and luxuriate in it for as long as I can.

    I do like the suggestion about silence or no applauding as a meditative device to protect the ambience and allow for reflection. I’ve been to recitals where the artist gave a 3-4 minute talk before each piece, which I found very agreeable. It adds to the appreciation of the music while giving the ear a respite from too much tonal sound.

    Finally, I’m at a loss to understand how an activity willingly engaged for the love of that event could ever be “too much?” When I’m doing something I love, the time flies and and I can’t believe it’s over so quickly. Incidentally, I’ve noticed there are many films that play in the cinema with running times well over 2 or 2.5 hours; a few even exceed 180 min. All without any intermission. And I’ve never heard or read anyone complain about the length– generally, one often feels fortunate for that “bonus” for the admission price! Why shouldn’t a love of world class music performed live evoke a similar response?

  23. Rainah Says:

    From both the article and the responses, it seems clear that a more flexible approach is warranted:

    1) continue the lengthier concerts at times

    &

    2) have shorter concerts at times

    with

    3) intermissions/applause (or not) to suit the occasion/target-audience….

    And here, target audience is so much of the key issue.

    What is the purpose of the concert? With whom is the music to be shared? Why would they want to come? How do we encourage an ongoing concert goer from each type of audience member?

    Methinks this is not a one size fits all situation, either from the audience’s POV, the composers’ POV, the performer’s POV, the stage manager’s POV, and on it all goes.

    ……..

    This I might add: that bringing in students’ from the public schools, and expecting to lower the level to the lowest common denominator reduces the long term development of concert goers…..

    A different solution would be more free talks at the local library – perhaps about composers/performers-lives – particularly composers/performers who are to be featured in upcoming concerts of various types…

    Also, rather than a ‘book club’ at a library, a ‘composer club’ – much along the line’s of the ‘composer of the term’ in Charlotte Mason circles in days past.

    Suggested reading/listening could be encouraged – and follow up discussions/listening could be enjoyed together.

    Amongst modern day Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, such focused lessons not only in music, but in the study of Shakespeare and etc. is doing much to generate ongoing attendance of many old style cultural events. My own children begged me to take them to Shakespeare when they saw a local production of a play we had studied together (as the play of the term). Mind you, they were 14, 7, & *5*, and all laughed at appropriate times….. When listening to music on the local classical station, they would at times enjoy playing ‘guess the composer’ (their suggestion to play — I rarely asked brought it up before they did).

    …….

    IN SUMMARY:

    Again, flexibility of type of concert depending on the target audience.

    &

    Develop an audience……. they will value it in the long run, and so will we.

  24. Robert Says:

    My thoughts on the matter is as follows: The concert pianist comes out on the stage takes their bow to the audience sits at the piano and proceeds to play. There is no interaction with the audience, no effort to engage the audience making them part of the music. Guide the audience about the composer, listen to certain melodic themes, how the composer develops the piece. Guide them how to listen, the mood the piece will set, enlighten there imagination. This approach was successful for Virgil Fox though concert organist….brought the organ from hiding to the stage and literally had his audience dancing to Bach. I think the piano and classical music performance need to evolve with the times and remove the formality. Perform at the piano yet engage through interaction. Victor Bourge cleverly did this through comedy, Bernstein did this through his young people concerts. Message…..engage the audience.

  25. Sheila Says:

    Somehow I am given to understand that in Heaven there will be no need for restrooms. On earth, however, this need is the reality. For some, the need arises more frequently and less predictably than for others. With this in mind, I would recommend keeping the intermission. The length of the recital, excluding the intermission time, would ideally be about 75 minutes and would not exceed 90.

  26. Wendy Harper Says:

    I voted for the shorter time purely to keep costs down. Venue hire costs are through the roof and audiences are smaller because of ticket prices, I would say.

  27. Christopher O'Hagan Says:

    I voted for no interval for solo piano concerts – much as I love listening (and playing) you can have too much and lose concentration. However for concerts with larger forces – even string quartets – I think an interval is a good idea. Many moons ago I heard the Leningrad Phil in their own concert hall – first half, Beethoven’s 8th symphony, second half his third. One of the best concerts I have ever attended. They simply did not need to warm up in the hall – just plunged in, perfect intonation, extraordinary strings. Lets get rid of the messing about with overtures and other small pieces at the start. Just two string quartets, or a concerto followed by a symphony etc, with intervals. But several relatively short piano pieces at one sitting. Big orchestral pieces have development, or some sort of consistency – you do not have to adapt your ears every ten minutes. With opera, an interval is usually essential – you may have to wait 90 mins to get to the queue for the loo! And of course solo piano should be lots cheaper than orchestral/opera – one performer (however famous, there is no forking out a fortune for the conductor and/or divas!) and shorter length.

  28. Clive Ackroyd Says:

    I think that in a time when people sit through a 80minute
    film in a cinema without having to have a loo break, it makes
    sense to do away with intervals, a lot of people travel to get to
    a classical piano concert so this would allow them to get home
    earlier too. It’s probably a shame for the bar owners that charged me £57 for 3 glasses of wine during an interval at a recent recital
    at the Albert Hall!

  29. Vladimir Oppenheim Says:

    My choice is 2 hours with intermission. Intermission itself is important in my opinion as it gives a listener and an artist some time to absorb the music, change the environment and get up form the chair, perhaps also exchange opinions about the music. The concert then becomes also more entartaining… An artist might need it to get a mental and physical break before continuing…

  30. B johnson Says:

    I am a steady concert goer and have been attending these events since the early 70s! I regard the event as one of education as well as relaxation and not necessarily one of meeting friends or catching up on social gossip. In the last few years the concerts I’ve gone to have invariably put me to sleep – kudos to the performers and the music they chose because I’ve obviously been put into a total state of relaxation and sleep has come easily. Once the break arrives I’m alerted back into reality and ready for the second half – through which I never fall asleep! Is it the style of music in the second half? Not necessarily. Did my power nap revitalize my senses? Most definitely. Would I have slept all the way through the concert if intermission didn’t come? Probably not. Why, I ask myself, do I keep on paying people to put me to sleep?
    Another series of concerts I have attended recently lasts for just over an hour, no break. Now I admit it’s only 60 minutes but I have never gone to sleep! 2 things come to mind. These concerts are in the mid afternoon and the first concerts I mentioned are all in the evening. For me that makes a big difference.
    So without writing a wordier essay on this topic, you might think I’d be ‘for’ the intermission, but I would rather not have it. I would however, prefer an earlier start – like 7 pm instead of 7:30 or even 8 pm.

  31. GERMÁN C Says:

    I BELIEVE IT IS FOR THE PERFORMER TO DECIDE WHETHER HE WANTS OR NEEDS AN INTERMISSION, WARNING THE AUDIENCE TO THIS END (SOME PERFORMERS NEED ONE, OTHERS DON´T)

  32. Elene Says:

    I’m fine with having an intermission, and surprised that so many are against it– it may be the way the question was asked. Wish there had been a choice for “either one,” as a shorter concert with no break or a 2-hour concert with a break are both OK with me. Just not much longer than that. Some performances amble on and on, and especially with a solo instrument and nothing added, no matter how wonderful the repertoire and the player, it gets hard to stay focused.

  33. Sasha Says:

    It depends on the program. Sonatas may be OK without intermission but a concerto + symphony need it. But personally I enjoy intermission to talk to acquaintances that I meet only on concerts ;-)

  34. 88melter Says:

    The opinions of musicians going to listen to other musicians is NOT as important as the opinions of non-musicians who still attend concerts as “lay” people, non-players, etc.
    Music lovers matter.
    I like a wide variety of formats, and, as there will, of course, be little or no real agreement about this topic, a plethora of options is the likely outcome, and that is all to the Good.
    MBB, a player, composer and listener…

  35. Pavla Says:

    We had a talented pianist, Sarah Hagen, here in Courtenay, BC. before we lost her to Toronto! She performed piano concerts with or without a guest for about 60 minutes without intermission. The concerts were mid morning and attendance was great. Sarah gave the audience a background on the work being performed in a very entertaining way. We sure miss her!

  36. Jay Dahl Says:

    I hate intermissions. The mood is lost, people have to shuffle in and out of their seats, etc. I think the only benefit might be to the venue to sell drinks, etc. I would LOVE a 100 minute concert, no intermission.

  37. Carole Barenys Says:

    Just sitting through—and loving Mahler’s Second– I felt like DVT was setting in. And that was a wonderful seat at the Schermerhorn in Nashville. The horrible chairs we are subjected to at most piano concerts venues require a little relief. If I (at 74) get fanny fatigue, what about the musicians?

  38. David McArthur Says:

    I think the determining factor is programme content. If the entire concert is devoted to one composer or particular style then the idea of running through without an interval seems appealing as a performer and logical as a musician.

    However if say the first half was all Schubert followed in the second by say Rachmaninov the interval would I think benefit both audience and performer equally.

  39. Mikel Diaz Says:

    It is not a black and white subject. Intermissions might be necessary depending of the format of the concert, the venue and the type of demographics attending the concert.

    If the program is presenting a solo piano performance then you might get away with no intermission as long as the performance is not more than one hour and 10 minutes or so. For a longer program is always good to have an intermission.

    For large concert venues where they might be offering a program that might be in the two hour range then the intermission is very important. Let’s say you have an only orchestra piece (with no piano) as the first featured composition, then a piano concerto . Then you should offer the possibility of a 20 minute intermission before the start of the second part of the program which again will feature another only orchestra piece.

    It is also important to take into account the content of the program particularly for solo piano recitals. Some pianists play for themselves with a very intellectual approach maybe and they believe that is ok. Other pianists play with passion for the audience. The first ones are killing classical music. I personally have attended some piano recital where the program just puts me to sleep. And I am a classical pianist. Imagine what happen to a person that just enjoy classical music.

    A program should always be varied with an array of featured compositions reflecting or conveying different moods. Isn’t art and classical music about the human emotions at the end of the day?

  40. José Maria Says:

    For me the ideal would be as in the planes: a couple of minutes walking along the aisle, to stretching legs and ease off, lighten my mind and be ready to continue. Socialize? Yes, of course, but after the concert… all night long.

  41. Maire Says:

    60 – 80 minute uninterrupted recitals are all very well, but for older concertgoers sitting that long without moving can be a very trying experience. I think there’s room for both formats, depending on time of day and the programme.

  42. Brian Swale Says:

    An intermission at 1 hour is vital for me. I can’t cope well with more than about that all in one go. Even more important for me, since I live in an isolated locality where one concert a year is about all we get, is the content. Sometimes we have a performer who is just great but the music he/she chooses is so modern/abstruse that I end up wishing I’d never attended at all. I much prefer music by well-loved composers such as D. Scarlatti, Schubert, Chopin, etc

  43. Maret Zadotti Says:

    The Zurich concert scene is experiencing the same problems. Last season they introduced a special series of concerts with a short ‘pre concert’ program done by the current Swiss slam poet champion followed by a concert performed by the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich. In this case it was Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op.54, with pianist Leif Ove Andsnes. There was no intermission due to the brevity of the concert. What was offered in the ticket price was an after concert drink. The concert hall was packed and the atmosphere during the after concert party was filled with a refreshingly youthful enthusiasm. Whether this type of approach trying to reach a broader audience was successful I cannot say but judging from the critics I would say, yes, it was worth it.

  44. Dearbhaile Says:

    Simple- It totally depends on the programme! Some works and combinations lend themselves to a concentrated hour and some programmes evolve over 1 1/2 hours music. For most performances more than 65 minutes I do think the pianist and the audience need a break especially for concentrated music

  45. Daniel Dunn Says:

    My Concerts last 45 minutes to one hour .
    Although I am an accomplished pianist , I suspect that most of my
    audience is only there because ” they do not have anything else to
    do ” .
    I was told , a long time ago : No one really cares about your talents …. people want to see a show !
    Sadly , I am the last of my generation ,,,, perhaps if I lived somewhere in the Orient – my situation would be improved .

  46. Bill Hutchinson Says:

    I voted on the “ditch” side, but with some trepidation that it depends on the venue and the artist’s temperament, not to mention his/her stamina and powers of retention. Like some others, I often travel a long distance and have great anticipation for recitals, and no matter how wonderful they are, feel let down when they are over, because – well they are over. But I think tinkering with formats is a good thing if it helps revitalize the audiences. The idea of the extended socialization with the artist after the music stops is quite appealing, but I wonder how many artists would agree to it, most schedules are grinding enough.
    In closing, this is undoubtedly an impractical idea, but some more audience education could be helpful. A vignette about the composer, reminders about applause, and some gentle “heads up” points regarding applause at specific points – like the “gotcha” at M202 in Chopin’s F minor Ballade.

  47. dimork Says:

    Have a little pity for us aged music-lovers who need to stretch their joints and/or visit the bathroom!

  48. Sandy Says:

    I also enjoy a concert with a lecture format with the artist explaining the pieces, some historical context, perhaps some explanation about the manner in which it was written or the particular way it’s played. I find this makes the concert more interesting. I am not saying every concert should be performed in this manner, but I think it’s certainly an option. Our classical music audiences do seem to be graying, however, I wonder if people were also saying this two or three generations ago? Yes, there are a lot of entertainment options available today: more than ever. However, there will always be a place for live, classical concerts. I think we have to be willing to experiment with different ways of presenting the music: traditional recitals with the intermission, shorter recitals with no intermission, lecture format and others. Let the creativity begin!

  49. MarkN Says:

    It’s hard enough for venues to make money from classical concerts as it is, so depriving them of the chance to make money at the intervals via the bar will only make things worse for them financially. They could compensate by inflating admission prices, but this then turns a voluntary revenue into a compulsory one, raising another barrier to attendance. I think that intrinsic to classical music is its relative complexity, enjoyment of which increases with an understanding of the history and background of the composition, repeated listening to alternative performances, and also some understanding of music theory. Rather different from the appeal of popular music which lends itself to instant gratification. I wonder if the decline in audiences for classical music might be connected with a decline in teaching music at school? I know that the lessons I was forced to attend at secondary school – not welcome at the time! – have stood me in good stead ever since…..

  50. Christof Says:

    It all depends on content! I am a staunch believer in not filling up a CD if you’re making a record album. You don’t need to have x number of pieces, and you don’t need to use all 74 (or 80) minutes. The same goes for a concert. If what you have to say musically requires a longer form concert, then go for it! Brevity is the soul of wit. For a longer concert to be justified, the two halves must be complete entities in and of themselves, and yet the two halves must be related in some way to form a unifying whole. Do you pair Peter and the Wolf with Carnival of the Animals because they fare well with kids? Or do you pair Carnival with Children’s Corner to compare/contrast French contemporaries? If you’re doing a Wagner opera, then yes. Definitely split it in half for an intermission!

  51. Timotheus Says:

    It depends on the audience, the venue, the program, and the pianist. I would assume that most recital attendees enjoy classical piano music, but are not looking for bleeding edge nouveau, or shamanistic 140-minute Medtner fantasies. They are like you, and they like different things: A brilliant and bracing beginning 15-20 minutes, followed by some interactivity, or a special remembrance piece or personal arrangement you would like to share along with a brief description of its importance to you, and 15-20 minutes is again fulfilled. Give the audience breaks of 10 minutes at those two points, and then come back and give ‘em the old razzle dazzle however you like, or, as Ethel Merman sang “whatever the critics will allow.” People generally need to puff on a fag, empty their bladders, and recalibrate their bodies for more sitting. The geantes can have it however they choose, and usually maintain uniformity, one reason they remain les geantes.

  52. R Jamie McDermott NZ. Says:

    Another thought. All concerts are special to me. They are a precious time out and away from the demands and turmoil of a very busy life. I savour the thought of an upcoming concert, there is a sense of anticipation and expectation that is delicious, I am incredibly choosy about the company and who I might invite to accompany me to the auditorium. It is an event. I keep a few special sets of clothes, evening wear, smart casual, tuxedos and so forth just for attending concerts and theatre. I have had evenings in which I have been as close to paradise as is possible in this mortal realm. It is not something that I make room for in my life, it is not something to fit in like a game of rugby. Each concert is a unique event, a construction in sound that ceases as soon as it is completed but the memory of a truly remarkable event stays with you forever. It is not to be rushed, it needs to breathe and have a life of its own even if it is for just a few short hours. How many of those do we truly get in this life. Everything else can wait. If it is urgent then have a matinee concert but leave those wonderful, formal, uplifting,spiritual events for us as they are. Please.

  53. John J Conlon Says:

    I take pride in abundance of the best repertoire by chopin prokofiev, rachmaninov, brahms, and the classics inn every format and texture Thanks JOhn J conlon

  54. GRAHAM WADE Says:

    Stephen Hough mentions the shrinking and ageing audiences…Does this mean the people concerned are both shrinking and ageing, (which may well be true of some of us)? However, on a serious note, let us have our full 45 minutes each way football matches, with extra time occasionally in case of a draw, and the same for concerts…We want our minds, however old we are, to expand not to shrink (whatever our bodies do!),,,Dumbing down doesn’t work…Piano concerts need substance and stamina, as well as beauty, elegance, and virtuosity…best wishes, Graham Wade

  55. CHRIST VAN LEEST Says:

    I don’t think you get more or less people without or with an intermission. With an intermission you have a better experience.
    You have the time to relax and reflect.

  56. Yvonne Says:

    Those suggesting that shorter concerts will somehow reduce costs have perhaps never put on professional concerts. Most venues would be hired for the evening. Regardless of whether your 7pm concert finishes at 8pm, 8:30pm or 9:00pm, the venue’s overheads and staffing costs will be much the same. The venue will unlikely be able book in some other short concert to follow at 9 or 9:30, so they won’t be able to amortise costs and pass savings onto the first concert presenter. In fact, it may “cost” the venue more to be hired for a short/interval-free concert if it means food and drink sales decrease.
    Then there is the matter of artists. Concert artists are paid per concert and I’ve yet to experience a fee negotiation that has hinged on duration of performance. Artists aren’t paid more for longer vs shorter concertos or because they’ve programmed 90 minutes of music instead of 70. Doesn’t work that way. And in the case of orchestral musicians you’re usually looking at performance calls (or services) with a minimum duration. A shorter program might be able to prepared on slightly less rehearsal time so there’s a potential saving there but the actual concert will be what it is: a performance call.

  57. Ron Says:

    I prefer an intermission when the program is lengthy. As one gets older, the need for a restroom break is more necessary.
    Even when performing, which I do, the intermission not only allows for the call of nature but is an opportunity for a re-centering of the mind and focus on providing the best artful interpretation possible.

  58. margaret Says:

    This surely is not an either or question. There are lots of options, based on the performer and the target audience.
    Having said this I think that two hour content is too long.
    Two forty five minute halves with 10 minutes for a stretch could be fine. Content should contain audience pleasing material with maybe one heavy work. I think classical performers can be out of touch with what an audience needs and loves.
    both the audience and the performer need to feel satisfied and compromise is good.
    Some concerts that have worked for me.(in the audience)
    Have a guest instrumentalist or vocalist.
    Have a theme or story.
    Choose a composer(and friends) and have a commentary. Etc. etc.
    Good Luck.

  59. Dorothy Says:

    As an accompanist for an all mail choir – I am pleased to have 10-15min.interval for a mouthful of water and a ‘pit stop’. The choir also have time for a drink etc. 15mins. max for an interval!.
    Even when I attend a concert as a patron, I am happy for a 15min. break.

  60. Sharon Boser Says:

    I have always enjoyed the entire experience of attending a concert..including intermission. I feel that intermission provides an opportunity to freshen up, grab a drink and socialize a bit besides being able to look forward to a second half. After all, a concert is a nice evening out…not meant to be rushed in my opinion. I would think that the performer would appreciate an intermission as well.

  61. Anthony Carrelli Says:

    I believe that concerts should be 1.5 hours starting at 7:30 with no intermission with a reception for the performers lasting a reasonable time say 30 to 60 minutes at the performer’s discretion with beverages of all types leaving it up to everyone’s individual discretion.

  62. Andrew Strong Says:

    Concerts should be as long as required to play the repertoire. The complete Bach WTC 48 could be 6 hours, Alkan’s Concerto for solo piano about 1 hour. People should come and go as they please (not during pieces of course), and socialize with the performers, eat and drink in a salon-like or club atmosphere.

  63. Lisa Lewis Says:

    I think that for young people and teenagers, being introduced to concerts, more than 70-80 minutes, 90 minutes at the most, can be off-putting. Going to hear a concerto, symphony, or other work with which they were already familiar would be enjoyable and would encourage them to return but sitting through a long concert when they have homework to do and school the next day could deter them from going again. I often find that I really enjoy the first half of a concert and during the interval I feel that my enjoyment would almost be spoilt by the second half of the concert and that actually I have had enough. If the second half contains a work which I really love this doesn’t apply of course. When one has had a busy day at work a two hour concert is often just too long.

  64. Jill L Says:

    I heard Ivo Pogorelich play for just over an hour at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford two years ago, and it was the most intense and spellbinding experience, despite the seats being so uncomfortable. The first and only interval-less evening concert for me, though that is usually the format for lunch time recitals. I vote for more! My concentration fades after that. However, it would not suit every type of work, really only solo and chamber music, and intervals are fine for big orchestral and choral works.

  65. Tim Stuart Says:

    Classical piano recitals are really a niche of a niche. Only pianists of the stature of Stephen Hough can generate sufficient excitement to engage and delight a dedicated audience for a full evening, and even his solo piano recitals can sometimes offer more of a ‘deep’ experience which benefits from undisturbed concentration. Other ’serious’ musical events – concertos, orchestral/choral concerts & opera – have a wider conosseurship and benefit from elements of the spectacle, with opportunities for a chat, and enjoyment of the whole evening’s theatrical experience, no matter that some of these elements are familiar from ‘low brow’ events. I’d generally go for the interval – even if only for the opportunity of an interval chat.

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