Modern conductors face a dilemma. In the bad old days of orchestral performance, they risked a shower of rotten tomatoes and brickbats if they butchered some beloved work of Mozart or Brahms. But works of modern composers are likely to provoke greater ire if perfectly performed/
The proprietor of a music minded blog describes a performance of
“Apotheosis of this Earth” by Karel Husa... meant to express the composers displeasure with the terrible way in which man was / is treating the planet earth. It included a number of unusual devices such as instruments playing quarter stepped notes to be deliberately out of tune with others instruments, and sections of the score which direct to play some unspecified notes for a certain amount of time.
These devices seemed to be most often realized at high pitches and high volumes which frequently became physically painful to listen to. It did not help matters that it was being performed in a relatively small “recital hall” space and not a large concert hall which may have been better able to handle the intense sound levels...
Before the music began I had high hopes for something interesting as they brought out 2 marimbas, 2 glockenspiel, 2 xylophones, 2 gongs, tom toms and a set of concert bells, but alas that was before I knew they would be used for evil instead of for good... The conductor stated that this was a piece you would not often hear in a concert, alas he apparently did understand why..."
Audiences can of course prepare themselves for high decibel avant garde music by shooting birds in season or clays if not, the afternoon before a performance , but what about the players?
Symphonies obliged to present avant garde works lest they be accused of philistinism may find relief from orchestral ear damage on the way from Japan. Long home to the mechanical Suzuki method of raising ranks of mindless five year old violinists, its robotics industry has moved on to mechanizing the rest of the orchestra.
The next step is clear -- serious orchestra or opera patrons need AudienceBots to fill their seats during outbursts of Schoenberg, dull acts of Wagner or Husa premieres. Those who come to suffer earnestly will be free to return to the balconies in person while those sensibly seconded by formally attired robots continue their greetings or gossip,or finish their champagne in the intervals that used the most dependable form of modern operatic and orchestral entertainment.
No longer! Now that paintball has become a form of performance art, it is time to turn the tables on the unpleasantness in Ford's theater by encouraging audiences to take pot shots incompetent Cyberconductors, or bean Robo-oboeists that drift off key, without fear of civil suits or manslaughter indictments. Bring the family, but to avoid serious bodily injury, best lay off the percussionist-- hydraulics can cause a world of hurt.