Mahler's 9th is stopped by a ringtone (update)

Mahler's 9th is stopped by a ringtone (update)


norman lebrecht

January 11, 2012

Last night’s New York Philharmonic performance of Mahler’s ninth symphony tapered off 13 bars before the end when a phone went off in the front row.

Conductor Alan Gilbert turned to the offender and, as Paul Pelkonen reports in his excellent Superconductor blog (with detail from a close bysitter), subjected him to public humiliation.

He then picked up from rehearsal number 118 and led the symphony to its quiet close.

UPDATE: Here‘s a report sent in by another audience member, Amanda Keil. And one more here.

What’s to be done about phones in live concerts? Simple. The hall should cut off the signal during performance. Right?


  • Martin Locher says:

    Cutting off the signal would have unabled me from attending quiet a few concerts. People who are on call need to be reachable. Of course my phone is on silent during concerts.

    If halls cut mobile phone signals, they will also need to tie the hands of first clappers, disallow coughing and sneezing and stop people from loudly unwrapping a candy or squeaking with their shoes.

    • Kev says:

      ‘enabled’, not unabled.

      • Martin Locher says:

        Unfortunately, the word “unabled” does not seem to exist. Disabled was what I should have used.
        But I doubt, this is of any importance to the meaning of what I wrote.

      • Ben says:

        Well it obviously didn’t “enable” him to go, he’s saying he couldn’t…”prevented” would be more appropriate

    • Clem Tracy says:

      I’m sorry, but if you can’t go to a concert without your cell phone – don’t go to the concert. I have several doctors in my family – most concert halls and theatres offer a service to doctors to leave their beepers or cell phones with a member of the concert hall staff – if there is an emergency, they have the seat number and can get them in an emergency. But why should someone who paid for a ticket be disturbed by the person next to them hauling out their phone and checking to see who it is? Maybe you can’t go to a concert when you are on call – that might be the price you pay to be part of an important and demanding profession (for which you are also probably well remunerated). One of family members is an E.R. doctor – she can’t go when she is on call because she is required to stay at the hospital! It’s part of the profession you choose.

    • Roger says:

      Sorry to pile on Martin, but I thought this slip was QUITE appropriate, “attending quiet a few concerts”.

    • Terri says:

      The “first clap” stigma is going away. I think each movement should have applause, each movement has it’s own character and virtuoisty. They use to clap after every movement when the baroque and classical pieces were written; but they had to wait for the king or emporer to give his approval.

      Phones are on purpose, sneezing is not. I say cut the signal. You don’t need your phone in the concert hall. If you’re on call, then maybe we should go back to pagers. ??? if you have to strap on a pager, then you’ll remember to quiet it.

    • John Dunn says:

      Dear Mr. Locher – I’ve never before heard this construction – “would have unabled me”. I think you meant “would have prevented me”. In any case, if you need to be on call, you have two choices: skip the event or set up the phone such that you and ONLY you are aware of the incoming call.

    • Will Wyatt says:

      Now you’re talking!

  • Tony says:

    It is not unusual for phones to go off during concerts, we have to try to remove the noises when we are mastering commercial live recordings for release. Now bleep notifications of emails and messages arriving on iPhones and Blackberrys too. Also for years we have had to put up with choruses of digital watch peeps at 8pm and at 9pm. At one St. John’s Smith Square concert we recorded not only did a cellphone go off but the owner of the phone had a clearly audible conversation with his partner about when he would be home for dinner.

    I believe that Japanese concert-halls manage to cut the signal off effectively for phone calls and message notifications, but generally we don’t here in the UK as far as I know. It is a matter of priorities. In the UK we can find forty three billion pounds for capitalising high-speed train lines few want and few will afford to ride, billions to fund the Olympics for a couple of weeks of athletics and sport. Maybe we should fine or blacklist second or third offenders.

    • Martin Locher says:

      I disagree with the train line and Olympics comments, agree however, that during performances, which are recorded for future broadcasts, a signal blocker would be acceptable. But only with a clear advance notice when purchasing the ticket.

      Btw, I have been annoyed more by your mentioned digital watch peeps and more so by first clappers or candy unwrappers, than by cell phones. But to me these noises are part of a live experience. Concert halls shouldn’t be too sterile.

      • Tony Johns says:

        Well, in this discussion the expression “to me” would not be appropriate since there are at least some people who think first clappers and candy unwrappears are not acceptable in some concerts. You should think about what others in the concert feel about those noises.

  • Robert K. says:

    Given the number of halls and houses now announcing “tweet seats,” I don’t think they’d ever considered cutting off the signal.

  • AVI says:

    Some halls cut the signal off quite effectively, but more by accident of design than intention – for example, in the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick mobile signal is hard to come by until you step out of the door, where is it plentiful. Why? Simple – the construction of the building happens to act much like a Faraday Cage, which restricts (effectively) signal coming in.

    It would, though, be illegal for halls to utilise mobile ‘phone jammers – as it is illegal for anyone to do so (in the UK).
    I believe this is partly for reasons of safety (i.e. not interfering with the radio spectrum).
    It would also prevent doctors et al who are on call from attending concerts – although maybe you’d say they shouldn’t be there anyway if there is a small chance they might need to exit.

    I’d still rather the gentleman I sat next to at the Met a month ago had had a mobile ‘phone call though, rather than constantly dropping his hat, picking it up, dropping it, moving around with a very rustly coat, fiddling in his pockets for sweets, unwrapping them, scrabbling around for more, opera glasses, and yet more interruptions. . .

    As a general rule, banning things, or enforcing what is only convention doesn’t work. Convention is more accurately policed by accusing looks and stern words at an appropriate time; there just isn’t an enforceable panacea.

    • Emil Archambault says:

      I agree for doctors; however, I believe the Glimmerglass Festival has a policy where (if you are on call duty) you leave your cellphone to a desk, and if someone calls you, they come and get you.

  • Human noises like clapping, unwrapping of candies and so on are a bit different than a cellphone ring-tone slashing into the dying phrases of a Mahler adagio. The juxtaposition of the transcendent and the everyday is so keen that it is almost a metaphor of something. As I wrote on my blog, I’m surprised the fellow’s neighbors didn’t rise up and frog-march him from the hall.

    • Michael Bosworth says:

      “The juxtaposition of the transcendent and the everday” is a great description of the nature of much of Mahler’s life and artistic output. I am sure he would have both appreciated and sympathised with the situation faced by Alan Gilbert had he been able to bear witness. Richard Specht relates that in during an opera performance in Hamburg the incessant noise of late-arriving patrons became unbearable. Mahler, who had already started conducting the overture, tapped off and put his baton down. He turned and stared at the offenders, saying evenly “Bitte, ich kann warten”. He was warmly applauded.

  • Oh dearie me! What a storm in a teacup!! Sure, it’s annoying – I’ve been at concert where mobiles have gone off. A sensible, non-prima-donna performer or performers will either carry on regardless or do what Paul Lewis did when it happened at the opening of a Beethoven piano sonata: stop, leave the stage, come back and start again.

    I find coughing, snoring (common at the Wigmore), hearing aids buzzing/whistling, blister packs of cough sweets being opened, digital watch bleeps, and ‘head-conducting’ distracting at concerts. The Wigmore also has gas lamps which hiss. But we can be too precious about this: concert halls are full of people, living people. Without living people, there would be no audience and no concerts. And if you want a pristine delivery, go buy a high-quality recording.

    To humiliate the offender in public has probably alienated that person for life: he may never venture inside a concert hall again. What a shame!

    Here’s one way of dealing with rogue mobile phones

    • _Vince says:

      “Prima Donna” performers? WTF? If someone thinks they are too important to turn their cellphone to “silent”, then who’s being a prima donna then?

    • viennaroo says:

      well said! I’m a muso btw

    • Dr. Marc Villeger says:

      “To humiliate the offender in public has probably alienated that person for life: he may never venture inside a concert hall again. What a shame!”

      GOOD NEWS!
      The fact the offender did not step out of the hall in a hurry or bury the device deep under his own butt doesn’t help his case.

  • sean says:

    It was a cel phone ALARM, not a ring tone. And the offender was hard of hearing and had no idea it was going off…
    He was not humiliated but asked nicely to turn off the phone.

  • Michael says:

    Superconductor got the story right; I was also at the Mahler concert, and posted the following account right after returning from Lincoln Center. Other audience members have added more details in the comments; one of them wonders if this was a Sacha Baron Cohen-esque stunt.

    Avi states that cell phone jammers are illegal in the UK; they’re also illegal in the US.

    • Thank you, Michael and Amanda. I’ve pasted your link into my original report.

      • Thank you Norman, we’re thrilled that you mentioned us! Michael also noted that before the incident, there was a cough about every three seconds in that last movement, which in our book is equally disruptive. At the very least, after the pause listeners somehow learned how to hold it in.

        The concert hall does demand a lot from the audience – and in an age when we can otherwise experience entertainment for free and at our own comfort, it’s a tougher and tougher sell. In any case, tweet seats cannot possibly be the answer.

  • sonosphere says:

    cellphones are like unsaved weapons in a musical performance. it should not be allowed to take them into a concert.
    i would be a complete nightmare for me to hear a ring- or alarmtone at the end of the last movement.

  • Thank you, Mr. Lebrecht for the complement and for the re-post. And thanks to all for your interesting comments both here and on Superconductor.

    I got this story from a concert-goer last night–I was at Tosca with Roberto Alagna, Patricia Racette and George Gagnidze last night. Review to follow.

    • Janey says:

      Thanks for relaying the story and getting debate started.

      Looking forward to the Tosca review. Big fan of Racette, and I’m in awe that Alagna managed.

      • Considering that he sang ‘Faust’ the night before (a last minute substitution for the still-ill Joseph Calleja) Alagna acquitted himself as Cavaradossi. Saw him sing it last year too. Here’s what I wrote:

        “Taking two heavy roles on consecutive nights may have taken a toll on Mr. Alagna’t. Although he produced a pleasing tone for “Recondita armonia”, there was a definite widening of his vibrato on the last note. The singer fired off a vibrant “Vittoria!” and sang a clear, noble “E Lucevan le Stelle.” The only sticking point: the short phrasing in the a capella part of “Trionfal!”. He simply did not have the breath to match Ms. Racette’s longer notes.”

        So a mezz-a-mezz. But Racette and George Gagnidze had good nights. Full review here:
        Superconductor: Opera Review: She’s a Brick House

  • Nick says:

    It’s actually illegal to purposefully cut off cell phone signals in a public building. Movie theaters were talking about putting in jammers for a while, but the FCC said that would violate Federal Law.

  • Rosana Martins says:

    Cell phones have existed long enough for people to know when and how to use them. Since common sense doesn’t prevail, I agree with Norman that all concert halls should cut-off their signal in order curtail the public’s lack of manners.


    an announcement before starting the concert would be appropriate ..”kindly switch off your mobile phones”

    • The New York Philharmonic has such an announcement. It’s recited (ironically) by Alec Baldwin. The actor, (who also hosts the orchestra’s Sirius broadcasts) was ironically enough thrown off a cross-country flight in December for failing to turn off his iPad. Apparently he’d been playing ‘Words with Friends.’ Either that, or he doesn’t like turbulence.

    • Rosana Martins says:

      Every concert hall in the world announces the request to switch off mobiles and still people insist, therefore the only solution is to cut off any connections!

  • Don Drewecki says:

    Don’t coat check windows in concert halls also take cell phones? Do people really and truly NEED to have their cell phones/iPhones on their persons while in the hall itself? If they’re so emotionally stunted, why don’t they bring in their teddy bears to hold?

  • maltodextrin says:

    If, as witnesses have said, it was a cell phone alarm, and not an incoming call, then jamming cell phone signals would not have done any good.

  • jim Mahoney says:

    Not being there, of course, I think Conductor Alan Gilbert, the offender, and the concert goers all did the right thing. They behaved in a civilized manner in an obviously distressing situation to all. A distinguishing part of our humanity, as we grow older and wiser, is not so much to try to have a conflict and annoyance free life, but rather determine how to handle such circumstances with grace. Somewhat along the line of the expression attributed to Aldous Huxley, “It’s a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and to find at the end one has no more to offer than “Try to be a little kinder.”

    Jim Mahoney

  • David Bosoty says:

    Perhaps its ironic that this disturbance occurred at a Mahler concert , since Mahler’s symphonies have juxtapostions and clashes of klezmer and martial tunes against dirges and lullabys. I wonder if Mahler were composing today, he’d quote a jarring version of the Nokia ringtone “Grand Valse” in a pastoral movement of a work.

  • johnny says:

    two words: AIRPLANE MODE

  • ClearHeadedPianist says:


    Since you have taken the liberty to post your inane moral equivilism on every page covering this story, I will take the liberty to respond in kind. First, did you not read the story? This was not a singe, accidental cell phone ring. This was an iPhone alarm that repeatedly rang over the course of several minutes. Second, the crux of your argument is that since coughing, hearing aids, and gas lamps (!) make noise during concerts, we should thus have no standards or complaints for anything else that makes noise; this is silly on its face. Third, you assume the best of this individual without any substantiation (He’s might be a new concertgoer!) while ignoring the actual facts (him ignoring the multiple in-concert requests to silence all mobile devices, for instance.) Fourth, you make an incredible leap in logic by connecting audience disdain over cell phones with the 30+ year problem of dwindling audience size. Finally, in an amazing twist, after boohoo-ing about how this poor, aggrieved audience member was wrongfully humiliated in front of thousands, you suggest that the remedy for a ringing cell phone should be…humiliating someone in front of thousands.

    Even if he was a new concertgoer (LOL at a new concertgoer being an older gentleman sitting front row center…see my “did you not read the story?” above) any individual who allows their phone to ring that many times in a venue where everyone else is being silent (library, funeral, church, etc.) has serious problems with civility and self-entitlement. This has nothing to do with the stereotype of orchestra concerts being too stuffy. Instead, it has everything to do with an oblivious (at best) or selfish (at worst) individual who uses arguments exactly like yours to justify why 2,000 ticket holders must listen to his iPhone ring for minutes on end. If anything, it is attitudes like yours that are harming audience size. Theaters have been ignoring or enabling bad behavior for years, creating a tiny subset of people who think that the price of admission gives them free reign to act as they please, driving away many ordinary concertgoers who would rather not deal with the hassle. Welcoming new audience members does not mean enabling actions (i.e. ringing phones) that are unacceptable in most venues outside of the concert hall, especially actions (ringing phones) that are addressed multiple times throughout the evening. I guarantee you that more people will be returning to the Phil because of how Maestro Gilbert handled the situation, and that many would have never returned if it were completely ignored.

  • ek says:

    Two words: Airplane Mode. And the “on call” argument is absurd; if you’re on call, don’t go to the hall.

    • Thomas P says:

      I can be ‘on call’ and go to the hall – no one knows the difference on the rare occasion when there’s a vibe in my jacket and I slip out to return the call. Netrebko doesn’t stop warbling. Gergiev doesn’t stop waving and jerking.

      • Jeannie DQ says:

        You must be kidding me. I totally disagree with you.

        Vibration mode works in perhaps Movie Theater, but not in a concert hall.
        I get annoyed even the harsh breathing sound from the man sitting next to me. Sound of vibrating phone in a classical concert is equivalent to a loud speak phone in a quite room.

        The sound of vibration can be heard at least 3 rows front and back of the people around, especially during the soft and quite passage. My blood gets boiling when I hear that. Even at the grand loud finale of say, Mahler’s symphony, at least people right next to you can hear the vibration sound. It’s ridiculous that those who have vibrating phone think that no one can hear it.

        I set it as an airplane mode before the concert and that is a basic manner.

        If someone cannot afford to turn off the phone even just for couple of hours, it’s best for them to just stay at home and listen to CD players for the sake of other music appreciators and performers.

    • Janey says:

      That’s a bit unfair, I believe. OB-GYNs would never get to the theater! Martin had a point.

  • Leanne Bear says:

    This idea of jamming phone signals in concert halls is ridiculous. It would violate human rights, bringing the world even closer to an Orwellian ‘Big Brother’ environment. Prohibitively expensive anyway, (and the arts are so grossly underfunded in the important areas.) It also would exclude any emergency or health care workers from attending concerts as they need to be reachable – via a phone on vibrate and a discreet exit. I propose that the Usher who checks the ticket adds one phrase to the directions for seating: “please ensure your phone is turned off”.

  • conductor says:

    I was in NYC recently and heard the Philadelphia Orch at Carnegie Hall. The players and conductor (Dutoit) were ready to start the second half (Shostakovich 10) when it became apparent that a lot of people were still not seated. So Dutoit dropped his hands, and waited….and waited…..for maybe 2-3 minutes whilst these people leisurely found their way to their seats. I was appalled. There really should be concert etiquette classes for these people. I remember now that Osmo Vänskä did the same thing here in Melbourne when a mobile went off during the opening of Nielsen 5. There comes a point when the mindless self-promotion and narcissism that our culture sadly seems to promote needs to be brought into line. This is a sad example of that sort of behaviour. Bring on the public humiliation.

    • ariel says:

      He should have taken a note from Stokowski – who also waited and waited – then Stokowski said out loud
      I too can walk about – and walked around the stage up centre isle and out the door .

      The next concert all were seated well in advance and gave him an ovation .
      It is up to the conductor how much of the ill bred he will tolerate .

  • julie says:

    Back before cell phones, doctors and other veddy, veddy important people left their pager and seat number with an usher, who would summon them as necessary at a pause in the program.

  • john humphreys says:

    bloke next to me at a recent Symphony Hall (Birmingham) concert couldn’t stop farting – then his mobile phone went off. I’m lucky not to be in the jug for GBH……..

    • Janey says:

      Can this comment win some award?

      • “bloke next to me at a recent Symphony Hall (Birmingham) concert couldn’t stop farting – then his mobile phone went off.” And after adding a few embellishments – the sprinkler system going off due to a false fire alarm, A lady’s lost parrot flying in from the rafters due to a hole in the roof and starting to sing “O Holy Night,” The sound board of the piano breaking, and the strings being loosened facilitating the piano and orchestra finishing the concerto in two different keys – the story won Best Blues Story Award pertaining to concert attendance and etiquette. I have to stop reading these blogs, they’re getting to me!

  • Andrew Rudin says:

    The “on call” argument IS absurd. All cellphones have the option to be in “vibrate” mode, if someone really DOES need to know, no matter what, that their phone is relaying a message.

    • Janey says:

      The argument is not that doctors should be allowed to have their phones ring. The point made is that if halls jammed signals during performances (a possibility suggested in the original post), it would mean doctors couldn’t be reached at all. This would mean they could not attend.

      This post was made in direct response to the signal jamming question. It had nothing to do with ring or vibrate. Ugh.

  • madmuse says:

    At the Saturday night performance we attended the audience was remarkably quiet, but at the very, very end, before poor Alan Gilbert had had a chance to release his hands, some pig in about the 15th row or so belted out a honking, stentorian BRAVO that shattered the ethereal mood. I guess everyone yearns to be a performer…

  • Waldo says:

    I wasn’t there, but I have a good friend who was(who works for the orchestra) and related to me what actually happened. It wasn’t a ringing phone, it was an alarm. Those of you who have iphones know that the alarms will simply not go off until they are silenced. Apparently, this man who was sitting in the front row was unwilling to silence the alarm because of his embarrassment. The ringing went on for 5-8 minutes through the quietest parts of the last movement of Mahler 9. I have been to Avery Fisher Hall many times and have heard many cellphones go off. People scowl, but since the noise dies down within 10 seconds, it is usually forgotten. Alan Gilbert has never stopped an orchestra because of a ringing cell-phone to my knowledge. But 8 minutes of a marimba tone during Mahler 9? His response was more than appropriate and I’m surprised he wasn’t angrier. My blood would be boiling. There are so few places where it is not acceptable to have your cell phone on anymore. A concert hall is one of them, and even if this was an innocent mistake(it can happen to anyone), the phone should have been silenced immediately, not allowed to ring in the vain hope that it will stop and not cause embarrassment to this man.

  • Lexi says:

    Although I agree with the need to be respectful. The culprit in this case was a man who was hard of hearing. And honestly didnt know the phone was going off. So the real question is why those around this man didn’t clue him in! Come on people, is everyone really so self-absorbed that they would let a fellow human being make this faux pas! I would have said something if I was closer to the guy when this happened!

  • KW says:

    I’m sorry, but regardless of all arguments here, it all boils down to the simple fact that the cellphone “alarm”, “ring” whatever, was downright rude. There’s no respect in this instant gratification world.

  • Miles says:

    Let’s go back to 1958 – the height of the Reiner and the Chicago era: Wonder what he would do as he was leading a Strauss piece at Orchestral Hall and someone’s cell took off down in front…..

    I know of some judges that will have the phone destroyed immediately if one took off in his courtroom during a session.

  • Dean says:

    I went to a Joshua Bell concert last year and a woman let her younger child cough during the whole concert with not one usher asking her to leave.

    I have also quit going to movies over cell phone use during the movie. I did not pay 10.00 or more for the ticket to listen to you talk or text on your damn phone.

    A society with no manners.

  • mehrlicht says:

    I don’t get the point. If I am in a concert, I want to listen to music. If I want to receive phone calls I am not sitting in a concert. There aren’t any relations between these two facts. There is no need to receive anything else than the music from the stage in a concert.

  • John Minnion says:

    At a time like this we have to ask: What would Mahler do?

    There’s a famous cartoon (by Fritz Schönpflug 1907) of Mahler surrounded by a battery of percussion (cowbell, hammer etc), clasping his hand to his head. The caption reads: “My God, I have forgotten the motor-horn. Now i shall have to write another symphony!”

    This ringtone incident is clearly the cue for another new version of the Tenth!

  • Garth Winter says:

    Yes, let’s leave the poor old guy alone: this was just an extreme and very unfortunate example. But I’m broadly in agreement with those who contend that there is simply no excuse for having your phone switched on in the concert hall. If you are likely to need contacting so soon and very urgently, don’t be there! I must say I had a cackle at Leanne Bear’s suggestion that jamming the signal would constitute a breach of human rights. FFS! If people can’t be trusted to have some manners, it could be the only way. The mobile phone thing does seem to be a classic case of tail wagging dog. As an orchestral player of mature years, I’m always bemused when the tea-break comes along, and all the younger players as one whip out their phones to check. . . well, what? They can’t all have partners about to go into labour. I’m just as busy as any of them, but I seem to have managed so far without having a phone glued to my ear, or developing muscular thumbs from texting (something I do about oncve a year, in extremis). It is not a human right to act like an ill-mannered arse around other people.

  • Mary O says:

    Jamming signals would cause a delay in making 911 calls in the event of an emergency in the hall. People just need to be grownups and TURN THE #(#$ THINGS OFF.

    Happens in church, too. sigh.

  • Doug MacKenzie says:

    No, a concert hall should NOT disable the signal to cell phones. Some people are First Reponders, doctors, and others who MUST have their phones on. That said, every dang cell phone I’ve ever seen has a “Silent” or “Vibrate” mode. -What we really need are concert goers who are smart enough to use the basic functions on their phones. Sheesh. Really, how intelligent does one have to be to do this?

  • Frank says:

    In this case, a signal blocker would not have done anything, as it was not a phone call and did not require a cellular network.

    The cause was a clock alarm, which repeats if not silenced when the alarm goes off.

    I believe the poor concertgoer set his iPhone’s Ring/Silent switch to Silent at the start of the performance, but unfortunately, even while set to Silent mode, an iPhone will STILL sound clock alarms through the speaker as usual. The poor, older gentleman did not know this, as many of us do not as well. So much for Apple products being intuitive!

    The lesson from this is – cell phones need to be completely turned off as this is the only way to guarantee they will be silent.

  • Marcus Crompton says:

    Interesting that some people have suggested that this guy was so hearing impaired that he could not tell that his alarm was going off, without wondering how he could benefit from an inaudible alarm in the first place. Or indeed an inaudible concert.

  • This reminded me of Sunday morning services – no matter how many times the worship leader reminded the audience to turn off the cell phone, they are people who are careless or just failed to clear their ear wax and tuned in!

  • Jan Fr. Christiansen says:

    The same thing happened, approximately the same place at the end of the symphony, in Oslo, Norway, when Mariss Jansons conducted Oslo Philharmonic. Toccata and fugue in d minor on a cell phone, first row!

  • ArtNikolski says:

    Once i was confused when my phone powered because of alarm. It was silent profile setted before shutting off, so my phone just powered and started vibration. But I was in the whole confidence that it’s not mine and was ducturbed by this noise as same as others.
    What was my shame when i checked it and shuted down again. After minute it repeated – and with the shame and nervous I removed battery.
    I didn’t really understand who set alarm on for that time? I didn’t understand what a crazy need it was. Adn don’t yet believe it was set by me. But from that time it bacame a rule for me to remove battery from phone.

    so – the silent profile for the mobile devices needs to be added by manufacturer.
    named like “concert hall”. Which would keep silence in any case – calls, alarms, messages and others.

    At last time I also use e-book to check scores or libretto during the performance, it helps me with understanding and studying. E-book has no signals, with regulated ligtness and no internet – it keeps attention inside the hall and performed music. I don’t think that tweeting and posting is so actual during classical performance to use any type of connections.

  • Brendan says:

    Blocking the signal wouldn’t have helped in this case.

    If you read what the guy himself said (, search for Patron X), he DID set his phone to airplane mode – this was an alarm, not a phone call. And it was a brand new phone that he’d only had for a few hours, so he didn’t recognise the sound as *his* phone.

    Yes, it was a pain for the other patrons. Yes, it was disruptive, yes it annoyed people, yes it was unfortunate. But blocking cellphone signals wouldn’t have helped in this case.

  • Brendan says:

    Also, turning off phones does *not* guarantee they’ll be silent. If I turn off my Nokia N97 mini, it won’t ring for phone calls, but it will turn itself on again to sound an alarm clock. Which is (almost always) a good thing.

    Not in a concert, agreed, but *almost* always you would *want* your phone to turn itself on to remind you of something you set it to remind you of.

  • Emma says:

    You forget the musicians! Yes, us on stage/in the pit making the noise – we usually have our phones with us. At any one time there’ll be an anxious husband/boyfriend waiting to hear if his pregnant partner has gone into labour, a bored percussionist checking the football scores, or someone who set an alarm to wake from a pre gig snooze worried they turned it off properly. Unfortunately every now and then they go off at unwanted moments. This isn’t tolerated by management (or players, though it usually raises a smile). The best remedy I’ve seen for this is in the LPO where they ‘fine’ you (a donation to the Musician’s Benevolent Fund) on a sliding scale depending if it is a recording session, concert or rehearsal. I’d happily see this apply to audience members the world over. We’d all be the better off for it – a good humoured financial deterrent works wonders.

  • Ian Sutton says:

    ‘Disabled’ is appropriate when referring to technology. Appropriate term applied to persons is ‘person(s) with a disability.’
    On the original topic, best that you stay away from concerts if you can’t silence (disable) your ringtone to vibration option. Otherwise you’d ruin the occasion for hundreds of others less self-serving. Farting in church is also frowned upon by many.