Why musicians enter and leave the concert room several times?

Edited: December 2, 2017, 2:32 PM · Hi,
when an orchestra finishes a piece, the conductor and soloists leave the place and then enter again, several times, 3-4-5 or more times.
Why?
I find it senseless and weird, not necessarily bad though.

I understand and I like that when people is clapping, the conductor can point to different sections of the orchestra or musicians, and they stand up and people applause specifically to them, and they do that with every section and soloists/special musicians individually. Then you can applause to all the orchestra in general, that's fine.

What I don't really get is when the conductor and soloists leave and then enter, several times. I swear the first time I saw this I thought they were joking, specially because the soloists did it like 5 times.

Why not, once the piece is finished, just wait until the applauses are done, and leave?

Replies (19)

December 2, 2017, 2:24 PM · In theory, they would only return if the clapping continues while they're off stage. But IMO they should give an encore (bonus performance) after the third time and not return if they don't intend to do an encore.
December 2, 2017, 2:54 PM · My guess is that somewhere in the history of orchestral music some conductor started the practice, it achieved what he wanted and the practice became the normal one for conductors. No, it doesn't make any real sense but it is just one of those practices that continue.

Fortunately the practice of the audience dressing to the same dress code as the orchestra members died out a long time ago and the audience is no longer expected to be in black or white tie, or tailcoats.

December 2, 2017, 3:23 PM · I think it's a way of determining whether they should do an encore. If the audience keeps clapping after they've left several times, it means they REALLY enjoyed the performance and would like to hear more. It would also be awkward & rude to leave while the audience is still roaring and not come back, imho.
December 2, 2017, 3:25 PM · All the above and--> TRADITION !!!
December 2, 2017, 3:33 PM · Has anyone actually seen an encore from this?
December 2, 2017, 3:36 PM · This is a question that we should ask the pros. Pros know.
December 2, 2017, 4:12 PM · John C, at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra two months ago, I viewed a performance of Rachmaninoff Variations on a Theme by Paganini (Caprice 24). At the end of the wonderful performance, he left and came several times with the audience still roaring. This eventually led to a wonderful encore.
Edited: December 2, 2017, 5:00 PM · But here's the thing. If people really enjoyed it, there's no necessity to leave and enter in order for them to keep clapping. Once them artists have finished, the public starts clapping. If it's been a long time (20 seconds?) and they still are clapping, then you do the encore. Although I haven't been in a concert of a professional orchestra were the public has not clapped with a lot of enthusiasm. I don't see the point of doing an encore based on the public's "opinion"?. Unless you were really bad, which is quite impossible for most professional classical musicians, all final public's reactions of most concerts invite the performer to do an encore. My point is all concerts would end with an extra encore if that's based in public's clapping reaction.

I imagine doing this and I would really feel confused. Like... they have been clapping 5 seconds ago, then I leave and then I enter, "oh, hey, long time no see"... thank you, thank you... ok time to leave... but wait, I should enter another time... oh wow, hi people, God bless you, thanks... ok seriously, now I should leave... ok wait, let's do it again...

Hahahaha, like, what in heavens?

December 2, 2017, 5:04 PM · In general, you don't want to be onstage when people stop clapping - walking offstage in dead silence is awkward and messes up the flow of the transition between pieces. I'm sure you've been to concerts where the clapping starts to sound really forced because the performer won't get off the stage - and so the audience keeps going out of politeness. So, people finish, bow, acknowledge the audience, exit gracefully. If applause keeps going with sufficient enthusiasm, go back out, rinse, repeat. The repeated exits are to give the audience a chance to stop clapping without being rude. Generally the performer / presenter will have decided beforehand if there's time to do an encore.

This mainly becomes silly, as you're mentioning, because people start counting the number of bows as an indicator of quality of performance. Then you get people who rush offstage prematurely and back on in order to "force" more bows than their playing may have actually merited.

Edited: December 2, 2017, 5:12 PM · Incontinence?

The "weak bladder marathon".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBkZKfTYf7c

December 2, 2017, 5:22 PM · Good point, but the acclaimed performers notice when the applause is turning off, so they can hear there's less and less, and that's when they should leave. I agree with you that it's awkward to leave in dead silence, but I never said wait until no one is clapping. In the other hand, I've heard several times that it's not nice to leave the stage when people is clapping. So I guess pros should leave when the applause is vanishing, and I think there should be no leave and enter because it's weird, or may be just once if people is going all crazy, jumping all around the seats because of the epicness with champagne all over the place, hahahaha. Also, encores are done when the performer has time and energy left, because as I've said, I don't think any of the public would say "oh, totally not deserves an encore, his musicality was very poor", hahahahaha.
Edited: December 3, 2017, 7:54 AM · Here is an interesting example,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwTqKDm3_qk

When Haydn symphony nr.47 concludes at about 25' the brass and woodwind leave the platform (they're not needed for the next piece), followed by the conductor. He is away from the platform for a noticeable few minutes during which time the strings occupy themselves with an elaborate retune until he returns - or is he leaving in order to give goed time for the re-tuning?

December 3, 2017, 10:09 AM · 4-5 times is perhaps excessive. Once or twice is OK I think. An Encore can also be dependent on time I suppose. If the conductor talks too much between pieces, there may not be enough time left before the players fall into overtime, which means extra costs to the orchestra.
December 5, 2017, 6:35 AM · I forgot to mention that the orchestra in the link in my previous post is Il Giardino Armonico conducted by Giovanni Antonini.
December 5, 2017, 8:28 AM · I can hardly imagine anything more awkward for a performer than standing still on stage until the applause begins to die away.

Exiting the stage is a cue to the audience either that they can let the applause dissipate or (if they enjoyed the performance) they should keep clapping to bring the performers back out again. Two curtain calls is about standard for a solid performance.

December 5, 2017, 10:51 AM · Related topic: how about the audience standing up during the final applause?

Over here, it is pretty standard for the audience to give a standing ovation at the end of the program, both with amateur and professional performers. I personally think that it's a silly convention; if you always stand up, then there is nothing left for that one in a hundred truly amazing performance.

Edited: December 5, 2017, 12:55 PM · 100% agree with Han. Standing ovations have succumbed to grade inflation. It's especially silly when they are combined with the "walking ovation" (people exiting while the applause is still going on).
December 5, 2017, 1:13 PM · I don't stand for ovations when in the audience - I'm carrying the age card! When I'm in orchestra I just about manage to haul myself to my feet when the conductor waves us to stand.

I much prefer to play standing, which is what I do when playing for dancers.

Edited: December 6, 2017, 12:03 PM · I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds most standing ovations ridiculous. I sit and clap unless it was amazing.

One of my teacher's students played the first movement of Mendelssohn solidly at our last recital, and I gave her a standing ovation. It depends on the circumstances, and I think she deserved it for achieving a great milestone in learning to play the violin=)


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