However, it doesn’t explain why some fail to switch mobile phones to “vibrate” mode or silent in certain settings (offices, movie theaters, places of worship, classrooms, etc.) even after being reminded time and time again. (Seriously. Do we really need to hear the opening chords of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” while our co-worker is away from his or her desk and that annoying unattended cell phone keeps ringing?)
But when an iPhone started ringing during a New York Philharmonic performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony this week, well, it was more than annoying. This
was enough to stop the band…right in the middle of a very slow, quiet section of the symphony.
From the New York Times:
Mr. [Alan] Gilbert [the conductor] said audience members pointed out two people sitting where the sound was coming from. ‘They were staring at me resolutely,’ he said of the couple. Eventually, the man put his hand in his pocket and the ringing stopped. ‘It was so weird,’ Mr. Gilbert said. “Did he think he could just bite his lip and soldier through?’
“People in the hall had been shouting for the sound to stop. Mr. Pelkonen reported that they yelled: ‘Thousand-dollar fine!’ ‘Kick him out!’ ‘Get out!’
Another blogger, who was present, Max Kinchen, wrote, “They wanted blood!”
While Gilbert says he and the orchestra typically ignore a disruption like this during a performance, he was concerned in the instance—in the off chance it was actually some kind of alarm—which is why he stopped the orchestra and took matters into his own hands.
The policy at Avery Fisher Hall, run by Lincoln Center, where the Philharmonic is a tenant, is for ushers to approach the owners of ringing phones and ask them discreetly to turn off the devices, said Eric Latzky, the orchestra’s spokesman. “In this incident, unfortunately the policy was not followed,” he said.
Betsy Vorce, a spokeswoman for Lincoln Center, said officials were talking to the ushers involved. “This is one incident where the policy wasn’t followed,” she said. “We’re investigating it. We’ll take corrective action if necessary.”
The ushers do not answer directly to orchestra management, and Mr. Gilbert said no ushers were in sight at the time of the ringing. “I heard this morning that ushers in the hall claimed they didn’t hear it, which sounds ridiculous to me,” he said. “Everybody could hear it.”
As an aside, I personally shared a similar experience, but the orchestra did not stop. In fact, the offending mobile phone belonged to one of the percussionists performing with the orchestra. Even though the offense occurred during a relatively noisy section of that performance (which is why he was playing), I can only imagine the reprimands he received.