Music and Vision homepage Jenna Orkin: Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death - From the heights of greatness (the Juilliard School; musicians Rosalyn Tureck and Nadia Boulanger) via way-ward paths to the depths of wickedness these reminiscences will entertain and enlighten.


Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

On concert etiquette and goldfish,
with Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH

? ' Dear Alice,
I have a question for you on concert etiquette. I'm not very familiar with classical music but have been, in the past, invited to concerts by friends (or friend's friends) who perform in various concerts. Is it customary (Mandatory? -- here is the silly part) that I should at least go seek out the performer and exchange a few words (of congratulations maybe?) with the performer afterwards at the concert? especially if there is a reception?
' Alan, clueless in US

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Alice Dear Alan,

Don't worry, this is a really tricky question even for those of us (and I'm giving away my age here) lucky enough to have heard Artur Rubenstein live. (When I was A CHILD, she stresses ... !!!!)

I believe that the answer depends partly on the nature of the event and partly on your relationship with the performer.

For example, IF (a) you received a free ticket OR (b) you received an invitation to a post-concert reception OR (c) you really wish to get up-close-and-personal with the performer generally (however mere the acquaintance might be at present) you must show up at the stage door/backstage Green Room/reception, and make all the right noises (whether the soloist in question did or not!)

Suitable comments in order of gag-worthiness include:

  1. That was one of the most moving performances I've ever heard ...
  2. I couldn't believe how wonderful you were!
  3. I can't tell you how glad I was to be invited!
  4. Wow! You did it! (usually reserved for unspeakable disasters)

Should none of these situations apply (you shelled out for your seat, there was no reception but you still really enjoyed the occasion) either (1) or (2) will do, accompanied by a beaming smile.

Should you have loathed the occasion but still fancy the performer, (1) or (2) are still recommended.

Should you have loathed the occasion and wished you were dead (or wished you had the nerve to walk out) during the performance, it's miles better to buzz off quietly, and send a lovely card or email the next day, regretting that you couldn't stay afterwards due to (a) death (b) death of close relative (c) your gerbil died.

Generally speaking, you can always oil into this option, AS LONG AS no free ticket or free reception was involved, and nobody will blame you, certainly not,

Ask Alice

? ' From: Lexi:
My goldfish that I have had for a long time now has a beautiful long tail. Today I noticed that her tail seemed to be looking as though her tail was cut up.

'Do I have anything to worry about? The rest of her looks healthy though.

Ask Alice

Alice Dear Lexi (I bet you were christened Alexandra!!!!!)

This has happened to a few of my goldfish; I think it's usually a sign of age, rather than illness, though as you know they can get pretty passionate and start nibbling each others' tails. Try, which I've found dead useful. And remember: ADD SALT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Copyright © 15 February 2008 Alice McVeigh, Kent, UK

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