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Welcome to the Mann: A few questions from a first-timer

The Mann experience: A newcomer’s perspective

3 minute read
Thursday's showcase for pianists Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang with the Philadelphia Orchestra left many patrons swooning with delight. But it raised some questions in the mind of a first-time visitor to the Mann who sat in the cheap seats:

1. Was Mayor Nutter serious during his pre-concert request for donations when he asked everyone in the audience to put in a $20 when the hat was passed?

2. Were the helicopters that sailed overhead during the concert different helicopters or the same pair or trio, circling the city in search of news or crime?

3. Where did Dvorák, Ravel and Liszt stand on the issue of helicopter accompaniment to their music?

4. Granted that recording concerts is verboten at the Mann, did anyone happen to make a bootleg tape of the symphonic rustling of plastic bags, loud whispering and clunking empty beer cans being performed with gusto up in the green section of seats, about 15 rows in?

5. Did anyone else who viewed this concert from a distance find Lang Lang's modern-dance-like arm gesticulations reminiscent of a child imitating either a creeping velociraptor or the high-knee raises of a Tennessee walking horse?

6. Is it OK to empathize with the loudmouths who started shouting, "We want Gershwin!" during Hancock's interminable solo, in which he poorly tried to cobble together a medley of some of his greatest hits?

7. Did anyone else who witnessed the double fist-bump that Hancock and Lang Lang exchanged after certain numbers worry, as I did, about the delicate nature of a pianist's hands?

8. Does the Mann staff fog the grounds before the show, thereby creating a delightfully bug-free atmosphere (except for those few intriguing moths that are fun to watch as they twirl in the stage lights)?

9. Does the Mann employ someone to shush the birds in the trees near the cheap seats? How does he/she somehow manage to curtail their songs after a few notes?

10. Is it appropriate or funny to shout choice bons mots back at the conductor or performers when they address the audience?

11. Next time, could someone please tell the drunken patrons behind and to the right of me that the answer to Question #10 is no?

12. Could someone also please tell the bus drivers jockeying for position near the Mann's front entrance not to back up their vehicles during performances and avoid emitting those high-pitched, repetitive warning beeps for minutes on end?

13. Is the Mann's poorly-lit parking area designed to provide entertainment for the staff, as patrons clomp blindly through mud puddles and trip over immense weeds as they scramble to find their cars in the dark?ïµ

To read responses, click here.

What, When, Where

Philadelphia Orchestra, with pianists Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang. July 30, 2009 at Mann Center for the Performing Arts.

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