Alan Gilbert stops NY Philharmonic of Mahler's Ninth when cell phone erupts
UPDATE: The comments to this post, including from people who were at the performance, have been spirited and fascinating. Feel free to add to them. Maybe out of this conversation we can figure out some truly effective -- and legal -- measures to prevent such incidents. -TIM
Alan Gilbert is being hailed on the blogosphere after Tuesday night's incident at Avery Fisher Hall.
When a cell phone went off during the hushed, poignant moments of Mahler's Ninth Symphony, the New York Philharmonic music director stopped his orchestra and glared at the offending patron sitting down front -- just as ...
Paul Pelkonen's Superconductor blog report is extremely specific, right down to ring tone (marimba) of the iPhone in question. The ringing erupted "just 13 bars before the last page of the score."
An eye- and ear-witness reports that Gilbert asked the villain, "Are you finished?" Hearing no response, the conductor said, "Fine, we'll wait."
By that point, the audience made its annoyance known with shouts of "Kick him out" and the like, according to the witness, as well as some rhythmic clapping.
The ringing finally stopped and the phone owner indicated that the device had been turned off.
The conductor then addressed the audience, saying that, although it can be worse to stop a performance under such conditions, "this was so egregious that I could not allow it." Amen.
Gilbert resumed the performance at a suitable point before the place where he had halted, which, I assume, allowed for a reasonable form of musical closure for the audience and players alike. (I would have been tempted to do the whole finale over from the top -- assuming no overtime issues for the orchestra.).
It seems that the only possible solution for this sort of increasingly common threat to the sanctity of concert halls and opera houses is a blocking of phone signals.
I don't know for sure if such technology is available, affordable or feasible, but authoritarian regimes manage to block all sorts of transmissions, so there's got to be a way to handle this ugly threat.
I say we need an all-out movement in this country, with protest marches, sit-ins and everything. The rallying cry: Take back our concert halls! We could even call it the Key Party. Or maybe not.
PHOTO BY CHRIS LEE