The musicians entered, taking their places, standing behind music stands. The conductor, long and lean Italian Gianandrea Noseda, strutted in, raised his baton and cued the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, on tour in the US, to play the “Star Spangled Banner.” The audience rose to its feet and remained standing for the playing of the Israeli equivalent, “Hatikvah.”
National Anthem performances are expected at the onsets of sports events or the awarding of medals at closing ceremonies. I certainly heard my share attending sports throughout high school, and as my sons took the field in their high school’s marching band or the mats before wrestling matches. At a classical concert, it’s less popular. Perhaps visiting orchestras, as ambassadors from their countries, play the two anthems as a sign of respect and good will.
Whatever the reason, I enjoyed it, and liked the chance to stand before sitting for the three-hour concert featuring French composers, and the opportunity to sing. I don’t know “Hativah” or any other countries’ anthems, and while I’m no competition for Renee Fleming at this year’s Super Bowl, I like singing the US National Anthem. I know the criticisms: it’s too hard and high; it celebrates war. I don’t care.
Looking around me, listening, though, I didn’t hear anyone join in. Why not? At sports events, some do, some don’t. I haven’t been able to find any justification of whether its appropriate to sing along, or inappropriate not to; I think it’s personal preference.
It’s the start of baseball season and with that, lots of anthems ahead. I’d say: don’t be shy, sing out!
What’s your preference? To sing or not? Blogger friends from overseas—share your anthems!