What’s with all the standing Ovations?

Over the past few years I have noticed, particularly at Severance Hall (my most regularly-attended concert venue), that the number of standing ovations has increased exponentially, seemingly in proportion to the number of mobile phone ringers that go off during concerts. I have always been of the belief that standing ovations are kept for unique and the most extraordinary performances. Perhaps in a season of eighteen concerts, there might be one or two worthy of a standing ovation, which is the highest honor (no pun intended) that an audience can give to a performer.But lately it seems that every concert has at least one standing ovation, sometimes more than one. And on the part of the audience, they often seem mechanical, almost out of duty, almost that the audience owes the performers the ovation, not that the performance led the audience as a whole to such a state of ecstasy that in unison they stand up cheering at the end. More often it is a few people standing, then the rest of the audience struggles to its feet. The multiplicity of standing ovations prevents those of us who are more selective about standing up from seeing the curtain calls at the end of a performance; it is almost as if we are forced to stand. A cynical friend claims that the only thing required in Cleveland to get a standing ovation is to drag a side of beef across the stage. As a past recipient myself of a few standing ovations, I would hope that the requirement might be slightly more than that, but the habitual standing ovations that I’m seeing lately is nonsense that cheapens the tradition of honoring the performer by standing. Even the brilliant Cleveland Orchestra does not always give surpassing performances. Are people just to ignorant to figure that out? Or too easy to please? Or perhaps already being standing gives people a way for a quick exit.Or are my standards for performances too high?

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