Alan Gilbert famously stopped a Mahler 9 when a cellphone went off.
A German maestro asked for an intruding bird to be shot.
Michael Tilson Thomas asked a front-row lady with a fidgety child to leave her seat.
Proportionate? Appropriate? Necessary? One astute Slipped Disc reader asks: What would Karajan have done?
Karajan would never have addressed an audience member directly in the middle of a concerto. If he found the situation intolerable, he would have quietly stepped off the podium for a handkerchief break and ordered someone in the wings to do something about it.
We have no record of any such incident with Karajan, either because audiences in those days were better behaved, or – more likely – because conductors were trained to turn on the tunnel vision and ignore anything that was not their concern.
Such as a fidgety child in the audience. That’s a house management issue. Or a matter for the audience itself to influence. Not a baton job. Karajan would have shut his eyes to it.
MTT, we think, made the wrong decision. People have conducted in far worse circumstances than this – in traffic noise, warfare, freezing cold and blazing heat. The conductor is there to get on with the job, keep his mind on the music and lead the best possible performance.