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January 22, 2012

In today's Sun, yes, more about the cell phone plague

I always worry about my blog-only readers missing some of my inestimable prose elsewhere -- that's the kind of caring person I am -- so I just wanted to let you know that I have a follow-up to the New York Philharmonic cell phone disaster in today's Sun.

This one looks at how some of our local arts organizations are trying to cope with the menace from those smart (or evil) phones.

And speaking of that menace, please take a moment to check out a great refresher course on cell phone etiquette from the Washington Post's Maura Judkis. Not that you need the reminder, of course, but you may know some less enlightened souls would would benefit from the suggestions. And, one day, we may all once again enjoy the fullness and richness of uninterrupted live performance.

Posted by Tim Smith at 12:35 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens


This video, which just came over my transom, seems apropos. When ringtones attacked, the soloist got creative. He looks miffed, but also neatly regains the spotlight.

Excellent. Thanks. TIM

Well, it happened last night at the Meyerhoff. Marin was doing her "Off the Cuff" lecture, and to everyone's surprise and one person's horror, her cell phone went off as she was sitting there fiddling with it. (I was 3 empty seats away, and we were in Row D Orchestra Center ... yeah, about 15 ft from Marin.) A few orchestra members chuckled, I stared at the person and the guy behind her, after about 10 painful seconds, told her to "shut that thing off."

Marin let it pass for a good 5 seconds, and finally made a remark about a cell phone going off, maybe getting some good press and us not being the NY Philharmonic. Then she continued speaking. Quite different from a quiet passage in Mahler, but she handled it elegantly.

Thanks for the report. I guess some things will never change. TIM

While certainly bothered by cellphones at concerts, there are so many of them now that someone is bound to forget to turn it off or think that they have when they haven't. I check mine 2 or 3 times before a concert begins I'm so worried about making a mistake! I can easily imagine someone rushing in at the last minute and forgetting. Why not just make it a point to remind audiences one last time before the concert begins? Mistakes happen, it's not always a case of being inconsiderate.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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