A reader writes:
I appreciated Monteux’s comments on audiences. Interestingly enough, my experience is almost always otherwise here in Houston. Audiences applaud when they feel like it, and are quite enthusiastic (if I were writing for the Eastern media, perhaps the obligatory comment about “cowboys” goes here…). Houston is quite friendly and rather friendly to the arts. Our symphony and ballet are in the black the last time I checked. Ditto theater. We’re second tier in the arts world, but an honest second.
Some years ago my wife noted the transformation, over his tenure, of conductor Sergiu Comissiona as he slowly went from “tolerating” the not-at-the-end-of-the-piece applause … to welcoming and appreciating it. We aren’t boors, we just enjoy what we like and are here to have a good time.
Actually, I’ve always thought Houston was a terrific arts town–good orchestra, good ballet company, close enough to Fort Worth that you can zip over and see the Kimbell Art Museum, which ranks right up there with the Cleveland and the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City in my cool-museums-from-elsewhere book. So I’m more than pleased to hear that the citizenry of Houston is enlightened when it comes to having a good time in the concert hall.
Not to be obvious, but maybe it isn’t so obvious: The first responsibility of art is to give pleasure. If it doesn’t, I’m out of there, or wish I were. (Alas, being the drama critic of The Wall Street Journal means never getting to say, “Wow, this really blows, want to leave at intermission?”)