Recently I attended a symphony concert, as an audience member, and it started noticably late - 20 minutes late.
That meant that the musicians were sitting on stage for 20 minutes, while the audience sat in the hall. Yes, the late start allowed a few audience stragglers to come in, but for the most part, everyone was just waiting. And from all I could tell, there was no emergency or problem. They were simply waiting for the hall to fill up. It's kind of the culture of these performances, as I understand it.
Yet it made me ponder the question - how late is too late? At what point do audience members (or orchestra members) begin to feel uncomfortable with how late the concert is starting? Or does one just assume, the audience has designated their evening for this concert, they can just relax and the concert will start when it starts?
Generally, if a concert starts within five minutes of the designated time - even maybe 10 - I don't notice too much. But 20 minutes is quite a while, unless there is some kind of reason or unusual circumstance - like the soloist had transportation trouble, or an audience member had a medical problem, etc.
Another thought: just start on time, all the time. Train your audience that the concert will always begin on time, and if they aren't there, they'll just miss the start of the show. People will start to learn to show up on time and get into their seats early.
What are your thoughts on punctuality, when it comes to when a concert should begin? Should orchestras be strict about start times? Or a little more casual and relaxed? Please participate in the vote and then share your thoughts in the comments.
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