When I mention the age of a performer in a review, I do it for a reason, a good reason.
When a former or current opera star, man or woman, is still singing when he or she is 68 or 73 or 90, it is worth noting and the reader should know. A critic’s remarks on that singer, positive or negative, should be taken in the light of that information.
When a conductor is 80 and leading a performance of “The Rite of Spring,” it would be wrong not to mention his age.
When a conductor is 22 and leading a performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, ditto.
When audiences have known a performer as a child prodigy and that performer is now 44, you say so.
When a pianist is 85 and still playing Liszt or when a pianist is 26 and already has a huge international career, it would be unprofessional for a reviewer not to report their ages.
And so on. Get it? No insult is intended. Take it or leave it. Geesh.
I completely agree with you, Tim!
Just begin your review with “To my
(44)? year old ears, Victor Blumenbergenstal at 77 is a marvel”.
At any rate, I like knowing ages when it means something musically. Keep it up!
Uh oh, did someone complain about the review you just wrote about the von Stade recital that you reviewed? I found knowing her age worthwhile in light of the reading the whole review.
You guessed it, Chris. It was an anonymous voice mail, so I couldn’t answer my accuser.
My feelings about this are decidedly mixed. You listed several situations when mentioning age in a review is important. Fine, but how do you know when it is not important? Can we agree that between 30 and 60 age does not matter or is it still relevant in certain cases? Which ones and why?
On one hand, we go to concerts in order to hear music and we want it performed well – what difference does it make how old the performer is? On the other hand, age might be important for the reasons that you mentioned. On one hand, there is no reason to mention age in reviews anymore, because these days it is usually very easy to find such information online. On the other hand, there is no reason to hide age because people can easily find it out anyway.
If anyone knows what my position is on this issue, please inform me. Gratefully, MarK.
I can’t speak as well to instrumental performers, but as an opera singer, I very much appreciate the inclusion of the performer’s age. We singers have only about 20 or so “golden years” in between many physiological changes. And even within those 20 years, the voice is constantly changing. Knowing the age is critical to understanding where a performer is in his or her journey and what they might be dealing with physically. Young or old, this information leads to a better appreciation of the artist!