Sign of the times

Here’s something that happened at a concert at Symphony Space in New York, given jointly by the Ying Quartet and the Turtle Island String Quartet. It was a brave event for the Yings. The Turtle Island String Quartet plays jazz and improvises, the Yings normally don’t. But (though only their cellist improvised at this concert) they stretched themselves very happily into Turtle Island territory. This in itself is a sign of changes happening in classical music, but that’s not the only thing I want to mention here.

What especially struck me is what happened during the first piece on the program, a Mendelssohn quartet that the Yings played alone. After the first movement, there was lusty (and well-deserved) applause from the audience. And who was that audience? A large part of it was people from the annual Chamber Music America conference, being held a few subway stops downtown. So if the professionals are applauding between movements — well, I’d say that’s another very big nail in the coffin of the idea that we’re not supposed to do that.

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