Thursday, January 12, 2012

A most unwelcome distraction

New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert stops the orchestra in the midst of the finale of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony when a marimba-toned cell phone goes off, The New York Times’ Daniel J. Wakin reports:

Shades of the night in March 2009 when a cell phone chirped, not once but twice, as the Richmond Symphony played Charles Ives’ “The Unanswered Question,” a profoundly quiet piece at least as easily damaged by extraneous noise as the “dying away” at the end of the Mahler Ninth. Conductor Dorian Wilson and the orchestra played on as if nothing had happened.

That’s the usual response, Gilbert tells Wakin. Remarkably, this seems to be the first time in the New York Philharmonic’s history that a conductor has stopped a performance because of disruption in the audience. It ought to be standard practice, with the offender frog-marched out of the hall.

UPDATE: Wakin tracks down the culprit, a longtime philharmonic patron, who says, “I apologize to the whole audience” . . .