In Praise of Domestic Venues

In Praise of Domestic Venues

Written by B. Jan Montana

Some of the lads looked disappointed, others seemed disgusted. You’d think I had just recommended Jack Daniels over Woodford Reserve. The ambience in the room went flat like Sunday morning champagne. Maybe I should have kept quiet.

“Really Montana, you prefer your stereo system over a live symphony orchestra?” Lepovski blustered; “Do you actually believe your system sounds that good? You can’t be serious!”

Actually, I didn’t say that my system sounded better. What I said was that I get more immersed in the music at home than in the concert hall. That’s not the same thing. I’m aware the experiences are different. So is watching a ball game in the stadium versus on TV. But you have to admit, you see more of the action on TV. 

There are too many distractions in the concert hall. How many times have we been disturbed by nearby attendees kicking, coughing, sneezing, snickering, whispering, or unwrapping candies clad in 12 layers of cellophane? It takes 10 minutes because she’s trying so hard to do it quietly. Once it’s finally extricated, he asks for one too and the cycle repeats itself. A few minutes later, someone needs to squeeze by to get another bag. None of that happens in my listening room.

At home, I always get the best seat in the house. It’s a comfortable recliner where I can stretch my legs and enjoy a Scotch. That’s better than a bolt-upright theater seat with no tumbler holders, no leg room, and no armrests unless I wish to take on two defensive ends.

To make matters worse, our conductor feels that it’s his didactic duty to expose us to “new talent” at every concert, so before we get to hear what we paid for, we must endure the “World Premiere!” of some discordant cacophony created by a college professor who became famous citywide as a result of his cocaine bust. The fact that it was written in prison and “reflects life’s injustices” doesn’t mitigate the malfeasance of making us endure it. During the intermission, most everyone said they hoped it would be the world’s terminal performance as well. 

At home, I can choose the music, conductor, and symphony orchestra I want to hear, and avoid those performances that seek to “break new ground.” I have a shovel for that sort of thing.

Furthermore, I can choose the music that best suits – or modifies – my mood. And it can be heard immediately, not days or weeks later. Gratification delayed is gratification denied.

I appreciate the ability to pause my audio system between movements long enough for me to decant another shot. Conductors aren’t nearly as considerate.

My listening room doesn’t care how I dress or comport myself, and it’s accessible without fighting downtown traffic or sparring for a parking spot.

To add insult to injury, I learned during a recent backstage tour of symphony hall that several sections of the orchestra are reinforced by a concealed PA system! Not a high-end system as befits the venue, but schlocky PA speakers and amps!

No wonder I enjoy a more immersive sound experience at home.


Header image: rendering of the Jacobs Music Center, San Diego, California. courtesy of HGA. The Jacobs Music Center will be opening in 2024.


This article was first published in Issue 25 and has been updated.

Back to Copper home page

1 of 2