Here’s something from a faithful correspondent, who wants to be known simply as a music student from Missouri. She liiked my list of young-audience characteristics, and adds something important:
May I just add to the list that a lot of younger people find the whole classical music scene hugely pretentious, in ways that those of us inside the circle may not even think about? I took my sister, who is really just a huge music fan and goes to a TON of non-classical concerts, to a SLSO [St. Louis Symphony] concert not too long ago. At the end of the concert, the conductor and soloists came took their bows, left, and came back to take another bow. She leaned over to me and said, “Cool — are they going to play some more?” I told her no, orchestras being practically forbidden to do encores by union rules. And she said, “Oh, so they’re just coming back out because they’re full of themselves.” And, honestly, I was a little shocked by the comment, because, of course, in Classical Music World, we see the bow in a completely different light — a gesture of appreciation to the audience, respect for the music we’ve played, etc. I hadn’t even considered how pretentious it might look! And it occurred to me that this tradition and the reasons behind it are something we don’t even question anymore, and we just assume everyone in the audience assumes our good intention, when, in fact they may very well be thinking that we’re just pompous asses basking in our own glory. Seems that the better plan would either be to ditch the tradition or explain the intent behind it.