Having given some serious thought to my last post on the stifling atmosphere of many classical concerts, I’ve reached the conclusion that amplification is the best answer. This article in The Guardian states that classical concert volume levels reach up to 90 dB, compared to rock concerts hitting around 120 dB, around 30 times louder in real money. I’m not enough of a philistine to suggest that the full 120 dB is fitting, but I think there’s a level where the music can whelm without overwhelming and where the persistent cough of the old codger five seats down is no longer the loudest thing in the venue.
There is already an array of microphones dangling from wire trapezes in most large concert halls. All it would take is some subtle, real-time application of amplification to turn that feeble 90 dB into something that, combined with some great music, would knock everyone’s socks off.
Here’s an idea: Why not do an acoustic night for the purists and an amplified one for the perverts? Then assess the ticket sales, see if the elusive ‘young people’ start coming along to something that’s somewhere near the level they’re used to pumping into their ears at point-blank range from their stupid Beats headphones. Whilst we’re at it, let’s have an introductory talk from the conductor beforehand so everyone is primed for what they’re about to hear. And finally, let’s have some applause between movements. Maybe even — and chop my fingers off for heresy if I’m going too far — a bit of clapping after the odd dazzling solo if the crowd feels the urge to do so. It might be hideous, but it might be awesome. It could just change the world of classical music.