David Glowacki is not your average scientist. First and foremost, let’s just pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that his personal website is www.glow-wacky.com, which is fantastic and awesome. The self-described “scientist, artist, & cultural theorist” was awarded a Royal Society Research Fellowship in 2013 and is a visiting scientist from Stanford University. The latest addition to his impressive list of credentials? Classical concert hooligan. Let’s take a step back and set the scene.
Artistic director of the Bristol Old Vic, Tom Morris, wanted to shake the image of classical music concerts being stuffy and uptight. The Bristol Proms seek to create a more casual atmosphere, therefore making classical music more accessible to a wider audience. Morris envisioned audience members standing up, getting into the music by dancing or singing along, or cheering when they wanted to without being “shushed” by other audience members. Glowacki wanted to take advantage of that informality, but found it did have boundaries when audience members physically ejected him from the theater after the scientist tried to crowd surf during the Hallelujah Chorus during Handel’s Messiah oratorio.
“He got very over-excited,” Morris told The Independent. “The Bristol Proms are contributing to a ground-breaking way of thinking which will pave the way for a new kind of classical concert. But by allowing an audience to respond in whatever way they want, you also allow an audience to self-regulate, as we discovered.”
Morris claims that this is the first time someone has been kicked out of a classical concert by the audience in about 300 years, which makes you wonder what that guy did.
“David was investigating what the nature of the rules are using the skills that make him an extraordinary scientist – and for some in the audience, a slightly irritating one,” Morris added. After the incident, some members of the audience expressed a desire for Morris to reinstate more formal theater etiquette, which Morris has no plans to do.
According to Glowacki, he didn’t do anything wrong and was acting how Morris instructed, though he described revamping classical concert etiquette as a “fossilized art form undergoing a midlife crisis.”
“Witness what happened to me when I started cheering with a 30-strong chorus shouting ‘praise God’ two meters from my face: I get physically assaulted, knocked down to the floor and forcibly dragged out by two classical vigilantes,” Glowacki explained to The Independent. “Neither the bourgeoisie audience nor their curators (e.g. Tom Morris) really believe what they say. You’re free to behave as you like, and it’s comforting to think that you have that freedom, but it’s only available to you so long as you behave correctly.”
It’s probably no surprise that many people immediately assumed Glowacki was drunk at the concert, prompting him to act like that. He asserts he wasn’t: “This may be a consequence of me being American, but I can quite easily be provocative without the need to be inebriated.”
As for trying to make classical concerts more informal and fun? Listen, I love classical music probably more than the next girl, but the idea of rocking out to Vivaldi or Debussy with a beer like you’re listening to Journey at an outdoor music festival is basically as ridiculous as Glowacki made it out to be. To borrow a line from Cogsworth: “If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it!”
I’m sure you’ve heard this piece of music before, but if you need a refresher, here’s the music that inspired Glowacki to crowdsurf:
[Hat tip: The Independent]