In the age of hyper-connectivity and multi-tasking, staying focused during a two- or three hour classical music performance can feel like a workout.
At a Kennedy Center concert in Washington, DC last week, I sat next to a woman who popped some gummy vitamins as Russian virtuoso Daniil Trifonov played a blistering passage from Stravinsky’s Russian Dance. As the celebrated pianist tackled a rousing Shostakovich fugue a few minutes later, she again reached under her seat, this time pulling out some hand lotion for her already well-moisturized hands. “Want some?,” she muttered to her companion, tossing the tube of honeysuckle-scented cream on his lap.
At the New York Philharmonic last month, an elderly woman in the front row flipped through a long New Yorker feature, as Yo-Yo Ma shredded his cello just a few feet away. A few rows back, a businessman caught up on sleep.