I've certainly heard the complaint that symphony orchestra concerts can be intimidating to the newcomer, but is the answer to make concerts more casual, or to actually make them more formal?
There are a few factors that come to mind, that can make a concert feel more or less formal:
Some symphonies have "casual Friday" concerts or something similar, where both orchestra and audience are invited to wear casual attire, have a drink at a reception beforehand, and enjoy a shorter concert. Don't worry about clapping between movements, we welcome the enthusiasm. This can foster a sense of relaxation and the feeling of having a good time.
But I've also had people tell me that part of what they most enjoy about a symphony concert is the sense that it is a special event: you dress up for it; the musicians dress up for it. It takes place in a hall designed for sound, so the audience respects that atmosphere. And with all these live musicians assembled for the purpose, the music is likely to be substantial.
What is your own preference? Are you drawn to a more formal, or more casual atmosphere? Please participate in the vote and then share your thoughts.
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