Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The reason why I do not attend concerts anymore in Venezuela (and for that matter movies)

A little Mardi Gras irrelvantness.

If this is annoying in Europe, think about Venezuela where it happens constantly...

.. no matter how politely people are asked before to shut up their cell phones.  They just do not.  In movies I have gotten into fights as people truly cannot understand why I object them taking their calls during the movie.

The other pet peeve of mine that really turns my stomach are the jerks in the US that stand up at the Hallelujah during performances of Handel's Messiah. Of course, in Venezuela some assholes are trying to bring this idiotic custom here....  So I have not attended a Messiah anymore.  But one day while travelling in the US if I can attend one Messiah I will stand up at a random aria and let people wonder WTF.


  1. Warren12:01 AM

    Standing at the Hallelujah Chorus is a tradition almost as old as "Messiah" itself. It seems a shame that you would respond so badly to it that you would let it prevent you from enjoying the thrill of witnessing this most incredible work in a live performance. As a working musician, I have participated in probably a hundred different performances of it, quite a few lamentably poorly done, most adequate, and some that were both inspired and inspiring. I don't believe I've ever done one where the audience didn't stand. I also don't believe I've ever heard a musician comment about it one way or the other. Those phones are another matter, though. (Truth be told audiences have always found ways to disturb both their fellows and the performers. I think some of them enjoy their effect.)

  2. Anonymous3:25 AM

    Throwing agricultural produce at performers is as old as opera itself. At one time heckling was common at performances of competing composers by paid thugs. I regard hallelujah spontaneous outbursts in the same light as vegetable throwing and heckling. They ruin a performance I pay good money to enjoy. I feel like throwing bottles at those who "faire fiasco" of the performance.
    Hallelujah, brother.

  3. I'm curious how it is now in Venezuela. I remember, as a child and teenager in the eighties, how concerts were in Valencia and Caracas.
    1) lots of sponsored stuff where you could see people of any class attending
    2) people wore mostly very casual and it didn't matter, the concert experience was mostly really to listen
    3) people were quite, very quite. I later found out that was not the case in Europe, specially in concerts that were for free or cheap (then it is here a gallinero if it is classical music)
    4) musical selections were not "the top 3 pieces of classic music". It was not a bad version of Las Menades
    5) people knew usually when to applaud and they did not applaud like madmen no matter what
    Some years ago I listened to a fascinating programme on BBC about the history of the applause. And there a musician said she found the most challenging people were South Americans because they really applauded according to performance and you noticed very clearly if they liked what they just heard or not. In Germany or Britain I found people applauded more or less the same out of fear or whatever.
    I found them a little bit culture barbarians in that sense.
    Apparently now we are in the same situation now. Pity

  4. People stand because when King George 11 heard it, he was so inspired, that he stood up. When everyone saw him stand, they stood too. It has been a tradition ever since then to stand when the Messiah is played.

    The Hallelujah Chorus, is a Song of Praise - The text of Handel's great piece comes from the Old Testament Psalms...words which continue to be sung and recited in their original Hebrew form in synagogues during a part of the service known as "Hallel". It has always been a custom for Jews to stand whilst praising the Lord during "Hallel", a practice which was passed on to Christendom where it is customary for congregations to stand for Songs of Praise (or Hymns).

    1. Oh-my-God! It could have been King George XI or Nicole Kidman, that custom reminds me of the custom Valencianos had (a long time ago) of clapping to signal to the bus driver they wanted the bus to stop at a certain place.
      Hm...yeah, let's say it's extremely folksy.

      I know, Firepigette, por esa actitud mía es que Chávez está en el poder.

    2. Anonymous2:50 PM

      In Valencia was a custom because the bells on the buses did not work. Then with the arrival of the "camionetica" it changed a bit to the friendly "en la paradaaa!".
      Anyway, standing or not in a classical performance is not a big deal to me. But those damn phones are not ringing now, but vibrating, which to me is more annoying.

  5. The first time I went to see the Messiah performed by the CPO and saw the audience standing up in the Hallelujah I was shocked.
    I was raised in a classical music environment, family and school, I even sand the messiah several times with choirs and that was the very first time I saw that ever. My family and I remained sitting down, but it was very awkward.
    I found out after about it being more of a british/anglo saxon custom and I respect that, but for some reason I feel absolutely incapable of doing so.
    Maybe it's because the version I've heard about George II standing up is different: the one I know is that he stand up at the end to applause, not during the performance, he didn't hear the whole thing standing up as they do now.
    Like many other anglo customs, such as sucking your fingers when eating chicken wings, I can't do it.

  6. There:


    1. They really do it all the time? How very tacky!
      Kepler running for cover yet again and getting faster.

    2. What I find tacky is people in Venezuela copying foreign customs just to look fancy or to show they have traveled.
      Like celebrating Thanksgiving or wearing a scarf in Caracas in the middle of the day.

    3. (I didn't finish what I wanted to say..)

      Like celebrating Thanksgiving or wearing a scarf in Caracas in the middle of the day....or standing up when hearing the Hallelujah live.

    4. A scarf in Caracas? Oh, my! I have never seen that. Last time I was in Caracas, I went to the Ávila with some Europeans and they started to gigle when they saw several young Venezuelans wearing gloves in the day, also first time for me. It must have been like 18 degrees Celsius.

    5. Anonymous12:56 PM

      'Theories abound, the most common being that King George II, attending the London premiere of “Messiah’’ in March of 1743, was so moved by the “Hallelujah’’ that he stood up - and if the king stands, everybody stands. The only problem is that there is no contemporary evidence he was even at the concert; newspapers and eyewitnesses conspicuously fail to report any royal presence.'

    6. Anonymous1:00 PM

      Since this is Boston Symphony article on Boston.com, I was reminded that as a teenager, I was fortunate to sing with my high school choir and sing at Symphony Hall in Boston. My school and two others sang Beethoven's 9th. It was a thrilling afternoon and one I will never forget!

  7. Kepler lol

    Of course I was not endorsing, just saying what I 'know' about the custom.I myself am lazy and prefer to sit and not be blocked by those standing, though I have some remote appreciation for quaint custom at Christmas , Easter etc....and I try to get along with and adapt to foreign culture best I can- the key word here being "flexible"...clapping to stop the bus ? now, that sounds charming, I rather like it...it doesn't require me to stand :)

  8. Anonymous10:26 AM

    I once listened to the Hallelujah chorus at St Peter's Square during an event. Everyone was standing up because there was no place to sit and the place was packed. I thought about taking a folding chair, but every time I've done that some old lady magically appeared at my side. Kepler, talking about age challenged folk, are you old enough to have stopped buses in Valencia by clapping? I am sorry to say that I used to do it on my way to school, but I swear I didn't burn any of those buses. Carolina, can you eat peas with the fork upside down like we British do? I can't! I like Daniel's idea of standing up when nothing much is happening in a concert, but how do you keep a straight face?

  9. Antonio - I have no idea what you are talking about with the peas! I have been trying to get a video or something but nothing comes up. I guess I don't do that.

  10. Anonymous11:59 AM


    I think it comes from the time of the Norman invasion in 1066. The Saxons resented the French and their forks, and to make a point decided to use the fork upside down. Take a look at this video:


    It shows you how to eat the peas, but the common citizen is much funnier to watch. They really pile up the back of the fork with quite a lot of stuff. Such skill!

    Here is another:


    1. I see...
      I never realized how much of a big deal this is! In any case, I eat peas like I eat rice. Period!

  11. Carolina,

    Here in the US many non Hispanics are taking up Hispanic customs, like breaking pinatas at birthday parties,or dancing the tango.

    People don't always embrace foreign customs to show off, but because they find them delightful or have experienced them while traveling and got used to them.You wouldn't believe how many Venezuelan customs I keep here in the US.

    Now going back to the subject of standing in praise( not of the King) but of the Lord,my children were married in the Russian Orthodox church where everyone is always standing in respect and praise .....it can be very powerful and poetic if we open our minds to it.Standing represents glory to God in this context.

    Of course it almost killed my feet to do it and part of me hated it.....but on the other hand I love the fact that I can add ideas on to my list of life experiences rather than limit them.

  12. FP -

    I think Americans are embracing the Hispanic customs due to the fact that Hispanics are now almost 1/5 of their population. And I just read that the projection for 2050 would be 1/3! So yes, the Hispanic culture has to have an impact.

    I am amazed at seeing more and more people kissing on the chick the Hispanic way (that means, one)on TV shows. That was something weird to do in USA when I was in my teens.

    In Venezuela has never worked that way. The north american immigrants are not so many for them to have such a big impact in a society. I am not sure what were your reasons to move (I'm assuming love?) but in my experience, most of the north american immigrants in Venezuela got there because of the oil companies, and they lived in oil camps with all the commodities, had their kids in English schools, so they didn't have to mingle with the locals.

    So the use of north american customs in Venezuela comes more from Venezuelans themselves, and usually they start just to show off. Nuevorriquismo en su maxima expresion, pues.

    I wouldn't be surprised that this new thing of standing up in the Hallelujah comes from that.

  13. I know you are right about the limited amount and type of US immigrants.British as well.My reason to move there was a husband,so you are correct on that one .....

    ..but still what can be so bad about incorporating new customs?....though I do think it is always important to keep honoring the old.I mean it would be sad for Venezuela to lose its culture, especially if the reasons were from feeling inferior, because there is nothing to feel inferior for.

    I live in a small town in the South now and have seen with some sadness that the local culture is dying out....we have huge enclaves of Mexicans, Russians,people from the North, scatterings of British, and Venezuelan, some East Indian and Pakistani,Greeks, and others all contributing their cultural flavors, which is quite delightful but I don't like seeing the original culture losing itself.

    Now more than likely we have strayed from the original post which seemed like a simple little rant( and deemed irrelevant by Daniel himself)...such is the nature of threads.

    1. It's a very complicated topic FP. that's why "Globalization" is so difficult, and it depends on who defines the terms.
      Incorporating new customs is fine, but where is the line where that incorporation takes over, like in your town?
      Hey, Venezuelans got Christmas trees and San Nicolas! And yet, most of us still put up the nativity, right?
      then you have the Mexicans (no intention to insult anybody, my father is Mexican born) that are borderline chauvinistic about their culture and costumes. For example, by law, parents can't name their kids with non-Spanish names (so forget about the Richards and Jhonnys).

    2. Firepigette,

      With "the original culture" do you mean the Yamasee, the Cherokee or someone else?

      I don't like prohibitions for names, but I don't miss those RIchards, Jhonnys or Supermans (we have a few in Venezuela)

    3. That and the other original settlers... same as in Venezuela.

    4. Firepigette,
      You mean those nations who were in North America before da Verrazzano explored the area? Or those present when the US declared its independence? (which means John F. Kennedy was an alien and so is Kissinger)

      If we consider Venezuelan "original culture", it's the same, even if a much larger proportion of Venezuelans have native American influence than in the States.

      I defend the traditions I inherited from my parents, I want people to speak Spanish and people in Venezuela to integrate, but I wouldn't call myself "part of the original culture". There is no such thing. Time doesn't stop.

    5. Kepler,

      I am not going back to the beginning of the Universe.

      Technically you are somewhat correct, but your right brain knows exactly what I mean :)

    6. Jhonny really is a Spanish name, as I have only seen that in Latin America. Johnny is not. :)

    7. True.
      Like Jhonattan Vegas. LOL.

  14. Smart cell phones are a nuisance everywhere, not just at concerts or the movies. Young people in particular are just addicted to those things. People of all ages hide behind their text messages and the internet.

    These days, you can meet with people at a restaurant, for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and they start the phone crap. can they live without it for 5 minutes? Nope. It ruins the flow of any interesting conversation. I understand that with family, children you must check your calls and messages, just in case. But this is just way out of control. Why even go out anymore, with some of those people.. I just take off when they start with the phone crap, and tell them "call me when you get a chance"..

  15. Daniel, the standing during the Allelujah comes from the fact that the first time The Messiah was played, the king was so ecstatic that he standed up and, of course, everyone else in the court standed up as well. Since then, we all stand up when the Allelujah is sang.

    1. We all?

      Not this one. I am not standing up to commemorate an idiot king that fell asleep during the performance of one o the top 10 glories of Western Music. Besides, in which way can possibly increase your enjoyment of the piece by standing up? A tribal urge?

    2. We?!!! Bruni, por favor!

    3. Juan Cristóbal3:15 PM

      I wonder how this discussion would sound to the people in Parapara...

    4. Oh boy, Kepler and Daniel, you are so stiff. I love the Messiah, every part of it. Even the most obscure arias, yet, it is fun to stand up when the Allelujah starts. It is a kind of momentum. "We all" meaning those that go to the concert.

      BTW the first time I heard the Messiah was when I was 13. I went to the Aula Magna and "we all" raised during the Allelujah.

    5. JC

      When you go to Parapara to campaign for Henrique just pretend you do not know us.

  16. Anonymous1:13 PM

    We should all stand for:

  17. Anonymous4:13 PM

    Every time that I have ever seen a Handel Hallelujah chorus , most noteably in Paris and Berlin , people stand. I never thought much of it until you mentioned it ... they are jerks

  18. Anonymous12:29 AM

    I see your point about cellphones but people standing? It's people having a good time. If that's going to keep you from attending more concerts, good. Don't go to anymore. If something simple like that can ruin your life, then you just need to stay home and watch TV for the rest of your life. What a grump.


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