The past week has been an exceptionally rich one for me in terms of culture and sophistication. The week started off with the David Trio performance in AUB’s Assembly Hall and the next day Caracalla’s Zayed and the Dream.
David Trio is a group (of 3 obviously) Italian musicians (cello, violin and piano). It was the first Al Bustan Festival event I attend which was not an arts exhibition or lecture. The music was spectacular, I always enjoyed Classical music, but had kept it locked-away because not very many people would understand how EDM can coexist with the Classical…
The synchronization, the seamless rise and fall of the music’s mood, the passion of the trio while playing, the even distribution between the three instruments, all aspects of the spectacle were absolutely amazing. With every pause came the urge to clap, but as my hands rose to slap each other and make sounds of elation, Ani quickly grabbed one of them and told me ‘not yet’.
The trio played for well over an hour, and not one single clap! No one dared move, and the sick and old kept their coughs and sneezes on hold till the trio paused between one song and the next. The mood was intense and everyone was in a deep silence, no phones ringing, no bbm, no cameras, no chatting. Then, as if to some cue I was not aware of, the whole crowd burst into thunderous clapping for several minutes non-stop, making the Trio who went backstage reappear shortly afterward and salute the crowd again.
Then performance continued a few minutes later with the same mood and atmosphere, even the press, which often make it their job to disturb the performance and get in the way of everything, restricted their motion to specific windows in time when the trio pause.
After this performance, I noticed how in appropriate our clapping habits can be. Nowhere was this more evident that Caracalla the following night.
People talk, argue, even almost beat each other for a seat misunderstanding. Every single movement, effect or sound will make some imbecile start clapping, triggering a clapping wave of one or two rows around him. This annoying, unsuccessful kind of applause never really annoyed me, but now I realize how bothering it is, and how frustrating it must be for a performer who hears uncertain applause before his or her act is done. The simplest thing, such as the wave of a piece of cloth on stage, sent a small segment of the crowd wild, removing some of the magic and intensity of the performance…
Lebanese applause habits are renowned worldwide and locally. My friend Fouad remembered today how when the first Axis of Evil standup comedy tour came to Beirut, people’s initial reaction was clapping instead of laughing… All of us who have been on a plane to or from Beirut know how embarrassing it can be when people clap when the plane takes off or lands. The almost fully-automated procedures still inspire applause for the ‘Ahh ya Captain ya Wa7esh’
I’m not just whining like my very angry friend Ribal, I’m merely pointing out that our clapping-culture gets in the way of appreciating something properly. If the David Trio performance had intermittent clapping ever few seconds, I’m sure it would have made the experience much less enjoyable, instead, the standing ovation at the end gave it an extra scale of grandeur. The Caracalla performance was deeply undermined in my opinion and instead of understanding the story and appreciating the significance of such an important figure in Emirati history, people clapped whenever something changed on stage.
Nevertheless, both performances were amazing and I definitely recommend you catch a Bustan festival event before late March, and a Caracalla performance before this Sunday
Clap Wisely =D