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It just kept ringing

A fascinating story about a cellphone and Mahler's Ninth Symphony: 
During the New York Philharmonic's performance Tuesday night, it was interrupted by an iPhone. The jarring ringtone—the device's "Marimba" sound, which simulates the mallet instrument—intruded in the middle of the movement, emanating from the first row at Avery Fisher Hall.

When the phone wasn't immediately hushed, audience members shook their heads. It continued to chime, and music director Alan Gilbert turned his head sharply to the left, signaling his displeasure.
Minutes passed. Each time the orchestra reached a quiet section, the phone could be heard above the hushed, reverent notes. Finally, Mr. Gilbert could take no more: He stopped the orchestra.

A Philharmonic spokeswoman said Wednesday the music director has never before halted a performance because of a cellphone or any other type of disruption.As the offending noise continued in a loop, Mr. Gilbert turned in its direction and pointedly asked that the phone be turned off. The audience let out a collective gasp.

The ringtone—believed to be an alarm—played on.

The audience wasn't pleased. A Wall Street Journal reporter seated in the 19th row heard jeers hurled from the balconies. One man screamed: "Enough!" Another yelled: "Throw him out!" The audience clapped and hollered in agreement—and still the tone continued to sound amid the din.
Thanks to my good friend Nancy for this story - read the whole thing here.
on January 16, 2012 6:20am
Those who cry throw him out dont get the point of the music.
on January 16, 2012 7:08am
One evening I was directing a Lessons & Carols program at the chapel at Fort Belvoir.  We had just finished our opening piece, and I turned to explain to the congregation participating what a "lessons and carols" program was about, as it was the first time we had ever done that there.  To my disbelief, a cell phone rang - and the elderly woman to whom it belonged answered it and carried on a fairly lengthy conversation.  The bass section leader congratulated me after the program for not "leaping into incredible action and ripping the d-----d thing right out of her hands!"  The practically universal presence of cell phones and similar devices in public or sacred spaces is so insulting, and, despite constant reminders to people to turn off or silence these devices, almost invariably ringing at some god-awful moment, allows us little choice but public humiliation.  Not only should the person who, like this fool in New York (who has since apologized publicly) just let it ring on and on and on, have been publicly jeered and shouted out, we ought to be prepared as directors to make the point.  The arts are already treated as incidental; we don't have to take it as yet another instance of the philistinism of certain members of our audiences.  While it may be the "nicest" approach to ignore it, there are times when it is physically/sonically impossible - as Mr. Gilbert obviously felt was the case here.  And if it happens, let the guilty party beware!
on January 16, 2012 2:22pm
At the SF Symphony, everytime there is a hushed, ethereal moment, someone coughs and pretty soon others follow. It takes only one person to jar the audience out of it's mood.
on January 16, 2012 4:09pm
A cell phone went off behind me while I was conducting Stainer's The Crucifixion, just before a fermata.  I stopped and bowed my head waiting for it to be turned off, but no such luck...
I can feel a bit of sympathy for the offenders, though. If the powering down noise is even more obnoxious, as was the case with my phone before I took a lot of time to learn about resetting sounds, one might just hope for the ringer to hang up.  I nearly had a very embarrassing experience with a now discarded phone which, even when the ring is off, emits a piecing alarum to warn you when the battery is running low. That happened just outside the wings of a large hall.
on January 16, 2012 4:33pm
There's several things from this story that don't sound quite right.  If indeed this was a new phone for him perhaps he shouldn't have brought it with him to Avery Fisher Hall or if he couldn't do that at least know how to completely shut off the phone.  On an iPhone as well as most other mobiles the alarm (regular alarm not a calendar reminder will sound even if the silent tab or the phone is in silent mode.)  In calendar mode the alarm will not sound with the phone in silent mode.  If someone just gave this poor guy a phone and said "here" that's irresponsible in the same way it's irresponsible for a car rental company to just show you where your car is when you go to rent it without giving you basic information such as where the headlights, wipers, unlocking prodecure and other basic things before turning you loose with a piece of machinery.  He should have left the phone secured elsewhere and counted on a companion if he absolutely needed to make a call. His ignorance of how to operate his device is no excuse.  If he didn't know how to operate it or how to fully shut it down that's definitely a reason for him to be ashamed of interrupting the NY Phil.
on January 21, 2012 9:48am
I have rented from Budget, Enterprise, Alamo and a few others. NEVER, EVER did someone give me 'basic information such as where the headlights, wipers, unlocking prodecure and other basic things before turning you loose with a piece of machinery.' as you suggest. It has never, ever happened. 
on January 16, 2012 4:51pm
Nothing can top Charles Bruffy, whose cell phone rang during his own presentation at an ACDA convention. And he answered it!