Tips from a concertmaster on when to clap

Posted on: April 9, 2015

On Monday (4/6) at her blog Inside the Arts, Holly Mulcahy, concertmaster of the Chattanooga Symphony, writes, “One of the most popular debates about orchestra concerts is when to clap. There are two types of clapping experts; one that assures you that clapping between movements is ok and that there are really no rules, and the expert that says only to clap when the piece is completely finished…. I wanted to share some general guidelines I’ve observed both from the stage and as an audience member…. Concertmaster enters, clap….. Music Director enters, clap…. Next up is the music. If the first … movement ends in a flash and there is a sudden burst of applause, by all means join in…. If it’s a quiet ending, watch the conductor and wait for him or her to put their arms down….. Sometimes it’s good [for the conductor] to share with the audience that there might be a trick ending. If your orchestra is performing Sibelius Symphony #5, or Tchaikovsky Symphony #6, share with the audience what happens in the work. Giving ‘permission’ to clap after the 3rd movement in Tchaikovsky #6, for example, would bring relief to some and direction to others. After all, applause is a reaction to energy, and sometimes a good release is so therapeutic.”

Posted April 9, 2015