7 June 1981 |
Los Angeles Times
re: "Some Random Thoughts on Audiences,"
by Martin Bernheimer,
L.A. Times, May 24, 1981
The Second Commandment According to Bernheimer - "Thou shalt not conduct with head or hands" - is based on the critic's assumption that bodily movement in the concert hall audience occurs only when would-be conductors are trying subtly to impress their neighbors who, the scribe scolds, "don't care that thou knowest the score, and, anyhow, Giulini can conduct it better."
While I will agree that conducting with one's hands in public should be left to the maestro, head and other body movements are a different story. Well-played music which makes sense in its tempi, transitions and drama causes in some people involuntary reactions - tension and release, if you will - at the muscle level, perhaps even at the brain-cell level, a phenomenon which contributes to the correct view of music as the universal language.
Anyone who has witnessed, as I have, such maestri as Mehta, Giulini, Roger Wagner or Robert Shaw watching other people conduct rehearsals, for example, has seen the gut-level (literally) response that good music inevitably causes in sensitive musicians. Indeed, somatic response to music is not limited to musicians, nor to our culture, as the age-old and omni-cultural phenomenon of dance clearly proves; and The Times music/ dance critic should have recognized this.
Music/Dance Critic's response: