This post goes out to the Upper East Side sixtyish divorcee with immaculate dyed blonde hair and impeccable plastic surgery and an enormous payout from her real estate lawyer ex-husband who was seated at Carnegie Hall tonight in the box just to the right the stage.
Look, we all got it, you love the Rite of Spring. It's a great piece of music. But you literally danced in your seat, and not a little bit, you were doing wave motions for the entire thirty-three-and-change minutes that looked like Tai Bo moves which were probably introduced to you along with The Rite of Spring by your failed musician yoga instructor who's twenty years younger than you with whom you're having a fling that's turning serious but you haven't realized yet that he loves you for your money, not for you; and then, as you talk non-stop to your daughter while you're dancing, literally non-stop, and you pretend to be embarrassed but are obviously proud every time a loud part ends and she yells out 'WOOOOOO!', you become the performance, not Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. At first I was amused, but eventually I was enraged. 2000 people paid serious money for this, and believe me, for most of us, it's very serious money. And yet when we arrived, the star was not the orchestra, it wasn't MTT or Leonidas Kavakos, it wasn't even Stravinsky, it was you.
Now that you've reached your venerable age, I'm sure you've come to that unfortunate realization that money doesn't buy happiness. Music comes closer to making you and me and everybody else happy than nearly anything else can, but a large part of why music gives happiness is that it can be enjoyed not as an individual, but as a community. You may think you couldn't love this music more, but at least one of us rode eight hours in a bus to attend a performance of by performers who do legendarily well a piece this busrider can write a halfway impressive facsimile in full score. And I guarantee I'm far from the only person in the audience for whom that's true - we just care that much! If you expressly wanted to dance, you could have bought any number of boxes further back and not attracted the attention of thousands. If your daughter wanted to 'WOOO' at The Rite of Spring, either one of you could clearly have sponsored a performance in a much less formal setting. A much more secure key to happiness than music is knowing that you've done good for other people. There are so many ways to make other people happy, and tonight, you chose none of them.
Just as you clearly are, I am all for less informality in the concert hall, I even started a performing arts organization in my twenties devoted to exactly that. If other people felt as strongly about it as you and I clearly do, maybe it would have succeeded. But since you were the performance tonight, I think you are worthy of being reviewed, and I wasn't impressed.