Time to revamp the ‘no applause’ rule in classical music?

One of the pleasures of attending the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's Happy Hour concert a few weeks back was hearing
spontaneous applause whenever a soloist played a particularly engaging piece. 

I'm sure, though, that there were hardcore classical fans in the crowd who felt that such eruptions disturbed the musical
moment as badly as would a cell phone going off.

Now, the ISO's Happy Hour concerts are designed as casual affairs (At the same performance, someone even whistled at
the conductor before he even raised his baton), so the mid-piece clapping should not have been surprising. But there's
debate among music lovers about whether the whole idea of applause restraint is a custom best abandoned. Music writer Alex
Ross chimes in on it here,
noting that the Commander in Chief even joked about needing guidance. "Fortunately," Pres. Obama said, "I have
Michelle to tell me when to applaud."

Is that how it should be? Would more people be comfortable with symphonic concerts if clapping wasn't met with cold glances
from other patrons?

Or is part of the magic of a symphony concert lost when the applause isn't saved for the end?

Your thoughts?

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: IBJ is now using a new comment system. Your Disqus account will no longer work on the IBJ site. Instead, you can leave a comment on stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Past comments are not currently showing up on stories, but they will be added in the coming weeks. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.