iPhone ruins a symphony concert and the conductor fights back as audiencescreams for blood
There aren't many things that makes an orchestra conductor stop mid-concert. I don't mean in between classical pieces or movements, but stopping a performance in progress.
With fires, medical emergencies, accidents, acts of god and natural disasters, audiences are typically accommodating when life throws lemons. But beyond those extremes?
What would make Alan Gilbert, New York Philharmonic's music director, firmly chastise an audience member while other concert goers chanted "Get out!" and "Kick him out!"? After all, Lincoln Center is where one expects more civilized behavior, even amid the unruly conduct that's notorious of residents of the Big Apple.
This was no "Is there a doctor in the house?" crisis.
We Confederates tend to be more genteel handling situations like this. Southern hospitality dictates that when scolding someone for improper behavior, we resort to witty insults of superiority.
Blame it on Steve Jobs and the incessant marimba chime we've all come to love and loathe. A guest sitting on the front row of a concert Gilbert was conducting decided it was best to ignore the ceaseless ringing of his iPhone — acting like a deer in the headlights — and hope someone else would be blamed for his faux pas.
Making it worse was the fact the interrupting warble transpired during the last 13 bars before the last page of the score of Mahler's Symphony No. 9, arguably one of the most ethereal conclusions to a mammoth whale of a symphony.
We Confederates tend to be more genteel in handling situations like this. Southern hospitality dictates that when scolding someone for improper behavior, we resort to witty insults of superiority.
It's hard to imagine that not too long ago, leaving your home meant not being reachable.
But as I attend more performances as an arts commentator and endure cellphones, candy wrappers, yawns, snores, dropping keys, fumbling purses, interrupting whispers and tumbling playbills, I think it's time Houstonians take concert halls back from the rudeness of those inconsiderate enough not to heed the advice of the celebrity personality — Alec Baldwin for the Phil — who requests proper concert etiquette.
Couldn't someone just devise a techie toy to render concert halls a dead zone? Are we that desperate to be connected that we can't seem to turn out the outside world? It's hard to imagine that not too long ago, leaving your home meant not being reachable by any means.
Art performances are an opportunity to daydream away from the banality of the everyday. Smartphones keep us grounded when we want to escape.
Just like some performing groups have strict no-children policies, would it be too radical to have a no phone rule? Yes, organizations would lose audiences.
So what's the solution? Instilling fines to offenders? A separate section for those wishing to text and tweet? Tell us in the comments.