Boston Symphony expels mother and child

Boston Symphony expels mother and child


norman lebrecht

January 24, 2016

We have received a complaint (below) from a concertgoer who was thrown out of a dress rehearsal Symphony Hall together with her quiet, 20 month-old child. Although the rules prohibit under-4s in the hall, Adele Ohki – herself the child of professional musicians – insists her baby would not have made a murmur.

Along similar lines, this morning, La Scala Milan announced a Sunday afternoon concerts for bambini at one Euro a ticket, and the Kansas City Symphony is actually bringing babies onto its stage (read here and pictured below).


kids on stage at Kansas

So, before you read Adele’s distressing story from Boston, let’s just see where we stand. Are small children a concert nuisance or a glowing opportunity? Should we stick to the no babes under 4 rule? Are we turning off the future? Think about it…

Here’s Adele:

adele ohki
I wanted to bring to attention a post I recently made on my own private Facebook page, regarding an incident that just happened on Thursday at the Boston Symphony. I’d like to bring to the attention of the public the discriminatory and exclusionary practice they have of denying entry to patrons with young children. I was denied entry to a dress rehearsal, and meanwhile, musicians and administrative staff are constantly talking about how they are trying to increase attendance at orchestra concerts and inspire the next generation of musicians. Just this week, Boston Symphony announced that they would offer “casual Friday’s”, where they would invite the public to come dressed in casual clothes, and follow the score on an iPad. I think this is a topic that should be heard by the public, and discussed in a public forum, otherwise the policy will never change. Although the Boston Symphony do offer 2-3 concerts a year that are open to families, these concerts are not with the full symphony orchestra, and are not very frequent, and do not feature the same soloists or personnel as the regular programming. As I am a violinist and freelancer myself, I know many of the musicians in the orchestra and in the Boston area, and I have received a lot of attention and feedback about my original Facebook post, with many people urging me to go public, and share my concerns.

The original post I wrote is below: “I can now add to my list of life accomplishments the privileged position of having been KICKED OUT of Symphony Hall. For Xmas this year, my husband bought my 20 month old son and I tickets to a DRESS rehearsal, not a performance, of the Boston Symphony, at 10am this morning. So, we duly showed up to the symphony, and were allowed in the door. Our tickets were swiped, and when we went to take our seats, we were confronted by the head usher, who told us we were not allowed inside, and must remain outside in the hall. I explained that we were just going to be sitting in the balcony, and were only going to listen to the Moldau anyway, and then leave. My son was in a fine mood, and was behaving in an exemplary fashion. He wasn’t crying, or making a fuss. The people making the huge fuss were the ushers. They told me I could sit in the cafe and watch on the monitor, where the ushers and cafe staff were bashing around dishes and talking on their wallow-talkies loudly. I was made to feel HUMILIATED and discriminated against. I was given uncomfortable stares by the patrons, and at no point was I given an apology. When the rehearsal started, I decided, what the hell, why not just sneak in the door while the ushers aren’t looking? They were being completely unreasonable anyway. As a daughter to two professional violinists, I don’t know how many times I did that when I was a kid and my parents were playing. But gone are the days you can do that without being noticed. I was then yelled at, while the door was open to the performance, and physically removed from the balcony…with VALID tickets. In front of my little one, who was still silent and engrossed and fascinated in the music. SHAME on Boston Symphony. I thought we were trying to encourage the upcoming generations to appreciate classical music? Whatever happened to that concept?!


UPDATE: A positive response from the Boston Symphony here.


  • Simon Funnell says:

    Norman this is so sad. OF COURSE other paying patrons have the right not to be disturbed by crying or noisy children. But if the child is quiet and enjoying the music they should be left alone. How else can we get children to learn to love classical music from a young age.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      It was certainly insensitive. But Boston will say, rules are rules…

    • Patrick says:

      Simon asks: “How else can we get children to learn to love classical music from a young age”?

      I hardly think attendance at a BSO rehearsal is the only or even best way. Besides, the point is not to “get children” to love classical music. Young children love enjoyable experiences. Create some that include music. Sure, I love a good dress rehearsal….but I’m an old guy.

    • Brian B says:

      They are quiet–until they’re not. I remember when a squalling infant ruined a performance of the Beethoven Pastoral in Seattle. Kicker was the child was the sprout of one of the violinists in the orchestra!

  • Philip says:

    The Boston SO are right, in my view.

    If I pay a high price for a ticket plus travel and hotel costs to attend a concert I expect to hear that concert in peace without interruptions from crying children. It is also unfair to the performers. Every child under a certain age has the potential to be disruptive and the age restriction is there for a very good reason. Furthermore it is selfish of the parents to attempt to avoid child care costs in this way.

    The simple way round this dilemma is to have concerts specifically aimed at children and young people which many orchestras now do.

    • Is Christopher Robson says:

      This was not a concert, it was a dress rehearsal! I am convinced that if the child had begun to be uncomfortable or restless the mother would have taken him out of the hall. My own sons booth attended rehearsals and performances I was involved in when they were only 2 or 3 years old, and if they began to get restless their mother or minder would just take them out of the room. Many of my colleagues have done the same with their children, and I completely sympathies with the mother & child in this case.

      • Nimrod says:

        Well, part of the problem is that commercialization has reached a point where there is no distinction. Rehearsals are sold with high price tickets, too, they are cheaper but not cheap, and hence you see the aforementioned attitude from ticket-holders and their fiduciary the ushers.

    • Brian Hughes says:

      It was just a bloody rehearsal!

      And, for the record, my little one attended many a concert I conducted. She slept soundly through most of Beethoven 9, waking only when she heard what was, for her, the familiar strains of the finale. In another performance, the same happened, except for the Elgar Cello Concerto, which she’d heard me working in piano rehearsals with the soloist. After that? A Tchaikovsky symphony. She went back to sleep.

    • Julie Parcells says:

      I completely agree with you. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has musical events specifically for babies and toddlers. Our patrons shouldn’t have to experience a disruption to their concert experience.

    • Michael Rassmussen says:

      This is why Orchestras will not have audiences in the future. Next thing you know BSO will kick you out for clapping between movements.

    • Lyn Lowe says:

      I agree with Philip 100%. Parents are oblivious to their children ranting, screaming and disturbing others. They need to be considerate of other patrons who have paid a good price for their ticket and want to be there to enjoy the beautiful music without an undisciplined child ruining the performance or dress rehearsal!

  • Scott Fields says:

    Is she really claiming that she was a 1-year-8-month child who, on her own, quietly slipped into her parents’ performances? I’m all for attendance by kids who are old enough to ambulate silently. But when kids that young erupt they are louder and harder to silence than cell phones.

    It is Boston’s discrimination against dog owners that should offend us all. NONE of their performances are dog-friendly. I had a ticket, and attempted to enter with my Pekindoodle, “Pizzicato,” but was turned away at the door. So I tucked her into a shopping bag and made my way to a different entrance. Pizz. rarely barks and when she does, it is hardly deafening. Yet when she sneaked a peek with her adorable doggy eyes, an usher was peeking right back. We have never been so humiliated as then when several thugs escorted us out of the theater.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      No parent in the world can “guarantee” that a 20 months old baby will be quiet for any length of time. Rehearsal or concert: the other patrons are there to concentrate and listen to the music, not to a wailing baby. Or to be in the presence of a quiet baby which might turn into a non-quiet baby at any moment.

      There are places for 20 months old babies, but a concert hall is not one of them.

      And *dogs*?? Good grief, that is even worse. If someone cannot leave behind his “canine companion” for two hours, perhaps he should not go to concerts.

      • Scott Fields says:

        It so happens that I was breastfeeding my little Pizz. and I find pumping uncomfortable. Am I to miss the five years of concerts that would pass before I wean her?

  • Olassus says:

    What is a Symphony Hall dress rehearsal?

    • Max Grimm says:

      It is a dress rehearsal* at Symphony Hall**.

      *dress rehearsal:
      1 – The final rehearsal of a live show, in which everything is done as it would be in a real performance.
      2 – A practice exercise for something to come (i.e. dry run)

      **Symphony Hall:
      – Symphony Hall, Boston; a concert hall located at 301 Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts

      Sorry, couldn’t resist 😉

  • Patrick says:

    Nothing distressing about this. She should have read and followed the rules. And any suggestion that the BSO are preventing children from hearing great music is baloney.

  • Halldor says:

    Boston concertgoers have a history of behaving abysmally in these public ‘rehearsals’. In the 1980s they booed Simon Rattle: the reason being that he used the ‘rehearsal’ to actually, erm, rehearse. They come across as a horribly prissy, intolerant and entitled bunch. There’s your ‘death of classical music’ right there.

    • Mark Henriksen says:

      Here are a few facts to temper your conjecture. The BSO has the largest endowment, world wide at nearly half a billion and an attendance of over a million patrons at BSO events. No sign of death there that I can see. If you really understand the meaning of the word, “entitled”, you will see in this story, the patron with the child under 4 is the entitled one; not the other patrons. She believes an exception to the rules should have been made for her and if not, she can rightfully sneak in and break them.

      • Be Sharp says:


      • Halldor says:

        Ah, the old ‘obscene wealth makes us right’ argument. Well, that clinches it.

        • Mark Henriksen says:

          If you are satisfied with letting popularity with the masses being your aesthetic compass then go to a website where you can resonate with the other Rap enthusiasts.

      • Alison says:

        I know the mother in question personally as well as her son. She is not entitled in any way. She loves music and wanted to bring her son to a DRESS REHEARSAL people! She wasn’t guaranteeing that he would be quiet, but said that he was calm and quiet when asked to leave. If he started fussing, she would’ve taken him out otherwise THAT would have been an appropriate time to be asked to step out. What’s with all the anti-kid sentiments anyway? As others have said, children are a part of life and how lovely to have them immersed in the arts.

    • Bruce says:

      I was at that rehearsal! Kyung-Wha Chung played through the Sibelius, beautifully; then Rattle actually rehearsed the orchestra in Petrushka, stopping and doing things over and trying to fix them (I have to say, they were sounding pretty ragged); and the audience booed at the end. (Not the whole audience, but it sounded like about 50/50 applause and boos at the end.)

      • Peter says:

        Morons. Whoever boos in a dress rehearsal is an utter amusical idiot. Is the Boston audience that amusical?
        I heard from two conductors, that what makes them go there is that they pay well.

      • Nimrod says:

        If it’s not a performance then don’t charge for it. Problem solved. These things are rarely sold out and hence it’s not congestion pricing, just more greed.

        But given that it’s all commercial and transactional in nature, only barely covered in the veneer of art, the audience will certainly feel entitled to behave as at circus games. It’s “entertainment.”

  • Brucknerliebhaber says:

    BSO’s no-under-4s policy at non-family concerts is appropriate but I can understand the feeling of getting humiliated by the ushers at Symphony Hall. My experience is that the ushers there are often rude, insensitive, inflexible, and elitist behaving ( shout Olde’ Boston doesn’t it? ). The older ones especially often dispense discriminatory treatment based on a variety of social factors…..In my opinion they can learn a lot from a show like Downton Abbey in the area of courtesy and politeness….phony or not.

    • SML says:

      I couldn’t agree more on both counts. It’s also important to point out that the BSO does provide concerts (Youth & Education) and select open rehearsals that are geared toward young children. This does not include the WGBH Classical Cartoon Fest as well as other non-concert activities that take place at Symphony Hall (and throughout the community).

      As for someone who claims to be the child of two professional musicians, such rules shouldn’t be a surprise. Also, since these are the rules and they’re printed on the back of the ticket, it should not come as a surprise when staff attempt to enforce them.

      All that being said, I’ve had several bad encounters with SH staff over the past few years so I can sympathize. I have no doubt that there was a better way to handle things.

      At the end of the day we have a person with an unrealistic reaction to pre-existing rules compounded by poor treatment at the hands of staff.

      As for the gentleman who attempted to bring a non-service animal into a public theater…come on! Really?

      • Scott Fields says:

        Sir!/Madam! Rest assured that if my precious Pizz. had started barking, say upon sighting one of that hall’s many notorious rodents, I would have clamped a glove right over her little muzzle and wisked her to the foyer. Indeed the breaking of rules should be considered cat-and-mouse sport between the patron and usher. As with Adele and her small charge, Pizz. and I were given rough treatment after being caught sneaking back into the hall only ONCE. That’s right: ONCE. The mouse (patron) should be allowed three attempts to ignore the rules and instructions before the cat (usher) becomes cross. That’s how it works for smoking in airplane lavatories and pocketting small items at grocery stores.

      • Max Grimm says:

        SML: “As for the gentleman who attempted to bring a non-service animal into a public theater…come on! Really?

        If you remain unsure at this point, I would respectfully suggest re-reading Mr. Fields’ posts and adjusting the “light”.
        Speaking of service animals, I wonder if Symphony Hall would allow a patron to bring an emotional support animal, such as the infamous emotional support pig, for deeply moving pieces or unsettling compositions.

  • May says:

    typical whining from the generation that expects the world to cater to them and thinks that rules are written for other people and only apply to themselves as “recommendations.” what irks me more than these self-indulgent parents is the fact that this even gets mention in what used to be a serious music blog, and not a drippy-nose forum for petty grievances.

  • Carole says:

    I have mixed feelings, as I began to attend concerts regularly with my parents by the age of 3. From the very first, I was in love with classical music and it became as much a part of my life as breathing. That being said, not all parents will whisk their children out of the hall at the first inkling of disturbance, and for that reason there should be rules. I like the Kansas City Orchestra’s approach, and feel that perhaps children’s concerts should be increased by all orchestras and also include those as young as 20 months.

  • Robert Roy says:

    I’m not a great supporter of very young children at concerts, (remember the controversy of Kyung-Wha Chung’s London recital where she, allegedly, scolded a child from the stage?), but it does seem the Usher’s were a bit heavy handed on this occasion.

    First of all, it was a rehearsal, not a proper concert and it seems Ms. Ohki was behaving responsibly in taking her child to a portion of the rehearsal that the child might benefited from. I also feel sure that, should her child have started to become fractious, she would have had the grace to remove said child from the auditorium.

    In over 40 years of concert going I can remember only one occasion where a crying child caused a disturbance to an audience.

    My own pet peeve are ‘official’ photographers who think nothing of wandering around a hall during an actual performance clicking away with their Nikons while the music is playing. Every time I see a publicity photograph taken DURING a performance, I wonder if the audience were disturbed in order for the ‘action shot’ to be preserved. Odd how orchestras and venues don’t get into a lather about THAT!

    • Greg from SF says:

      I have photographed live classical musical performances with my Nikon many times.
      I never ever use flash, and I am very careful to refrain from tripping the shutter except during the loudest sections of the music.
      I’ve always gotten advance permission to shoot, and in the intervals I ask the performers and the audience members closest to me if they heard any disturbing camera sounds.
      The answer has always been “no”.
      I have never had a problem. The Nikon is apparently a very quiet camera.

      • Gerhard says:

        Kudos for your diligence! But from my experience you are as rare a breed as a white raven.

      • Robert Roy says:

        Hi Greg. Thank you for your reply. I’m 100% sure you are considerate but I’ve been to performances where the ‘official’ photographer couldn’t have cared less.

        • Greg from SF says:

          Hi Robert,
          Unfortunately you are correct. It bugs me too!
          I think most photographers simply don’t have much experience with classical music, likely not being fans of it themselves, and they just don’t know what the requirements for courtesy are in an art music scenario.
          Photographing a jazz, rock, or pop concert is a totally different deal (and, BTW, lots of fun). It’s a far-from-quiet environment, people can talk or move around when they please, and even eat and drink during the music.
          (Actually, that sounds kind of like the description Harry Partch once wrote for the kind of classical concert experience he would have liked to become the norm!)
          At the SF Symphony and Opera, and many other venues around town, photography during performances is strictly prohibited. I myself shoot mainly college-and-lower-level and amateur gigs, usually on a volunteer basis – and, as I said, I get permission in advance.
          Perhaps if the classical performing organizations you (and Gerhard) allude to which DO allow photography during performances were to be more selective about the photographers they engage, and give them some basic instruction on the dos and dont’s, you wouldn’t have those bad experiences any more.
          Good luck and happy listening!

  • Brian Hughes says:

    True story from my undergrad days and a performance of Vaughan Williams’s Hodie. A baby was in the audience and began to “coo” fairly quietly during the soprano soloist’s ‘Lullaby.’ While I was struck at the poignancy of the moment in the actual concert, I didn’t appropriately appreciate this chance event until hearing the recording. Transcendent. Priceless!

  • Anne63 says:

    “I was then yelled at, while the door was open to the performance, and physically removed from the balcony”

    “yelled at” and “physically removed”?

    Bad, if true. On the other hand, it’s not unheard of for parents to overreact when they hear the word ‘no’.

    I’m reserving judgement on this.

  • Arabella says:

    Totally agree with BSO. Babies do not belong in concerts. I do feel, though that it’s BSO’s responsibility to provide baby friendly concerts. My European orch. is not nearly as prestigious as BSO, but we offer regular Family Concerts and concerts for young people with appropriate age ranges posted.

    Most important: we have started presenting concerts SPECIFICALLY for babies! Yes, I also was skeptical but they are terrific. The Concerts for Babies movement was started in Portugal by Paulo Lameiro, who’s researched what babies enjoy and would benefit most from listening to. He designs programs based on babies’ needs and travels around Europe to various orchestras presenting them.

    The programs consist of short, pleasing works, generally very soothing or rhythmically interesting, with soft sounds and speaking in between. Babies and their families sit on the stage right in front of the orchestra, where Paulo and his helpers (usually student musicians) invite them to enjoy the music. Certain instruments, which babies apparently especially enjoy, are featured. Bizet L’Arlesienne for saxophone, Faure Sicilieene for harp
    and flute, Mozart Clarinet concerto (1 movement).

    Parents hold their babies thruout and Paulo will often “borrow” a baby to bring to the front and hold right in front of the orch, or as he walks thru the orch. At one point, Paulo has orch. members come into the baby audience, sit beside them, and let them see up close our insturments and us.

    You expect baby noises. It’s part of the concert!

    I am also one of those who gets a little fed up with parents who have an extraordinary sense of entitlement because they have a baby. Not everyone likes having babies around, especially after they’ve paid good money to attend the BSO. Enough already.

    Orchestras need to create baby-friendly concerts, like Paulo Lameiro’s Concerts for Babies and everyone will be happy!

  • Robert says:

    There really is no such thing as a quiet child, just a child who is currently quiet.

    “He will be quiet” There’s no way to assure that.

  • CDH says:

    She’s a member of the self-esteem, me-me-me generation. What are her children going to be like?

    These people seem to believe that nobody has any right to set ground rules that contradict their selfish interests.


  • MacroV says:

    I’m generally not in favor of young children at concerts, because I’m paying to hear the orchestra, not other members of the audience. But if she got as far as the auditorium before they stopped her, that’s a problem. And my – admittedly limited and dated – experience at Symphony Hall was that the ushers and even ticket sellers could be a bit rude and condescending.

    But this was an open rehearsal, where I’d think the rules would be a bit more relaxed; as I recall, the BSO usually closes off the front 10-15 rows to begin with, presumably so as not to be annoyed by nearby audience noise. OTOH, it is, as they usually remind, a WORKING rehearsal, so audience noise is perhaps even more distracting than in a concert.

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    Sure the ushers were quite insensitive especially because they created the disturbance not the mother and child; but come on: A 20 month old child is now the “future” of classical music audience when sitting through a dress rehearsal for a 20 minute piece??? What’s next? Disturbed ovules too?

    • HugoPreuss says:

      We only have the mother’s word for the ushers creating the disturbance, and, frankly, I am not inclined to take her word at face value. I’d like to hear the other side. Prima facie the ushers seem to have been correct in removing her, esp. after “sneaking” back in. The complaint seems to be an outburst of a sense of entitlement, and I would not be surprised if the rude part in this encounter was the enraged mother…

  • cecylia arzewski says:

    How times have changed!
    I was a member of the BSO from 1970 – 1987 and I remember an open rehearsal when a woman showed up and sat in the first raw with her 10 month old infant. She put the infant on the floor in front of her, gave the child her wallet and he or she sat there through the entire open rehearsal without a single cry or anything.
    I am very sad to hear how you have been treated!
    Cecylia Arzewski ( former assistant – concertmaster of the BSO)

    • Bruce says:

      I remember the big ovation the Boston audience gave you when the Cleveland Orchestra came to town in 1988, just after you had left the BSO. Daniel Majeski (sp?) was playing a solo piece and the audience went politely bonkers when you came out to tune the orchestra 🙂

  • Jansumi says:

    This sounds more like officious immature staff than a policy issue. I don’t know whether it’s fear or outright stupidity, but too many now seem unable to distinguish between the purpose and the letter of a law. That the cafe she mentions is noisy and oblivious to the music is another indication – if it’s set up for audience members then the staff should shut up. This is a knowledgeable patron. I hope the symphony evaluates the situation thoroughly.

  • Ellen says:

    I understand both sides of the issue here…and have been on both sides of the issue. I hope that the BSO will consider what the real goal here is and why they even have an open dress rehearsal if not to introduce new audience members to their music in a less formal atmosphere than an actual performance. And that means audiences of all ages…would we object to bringing someone older than four who – for whatever reason – cannot stay completely quiet? What about someone with developmental disabilities or Alzheimers? Or just someone who likes to hum along and doesn’t realize they are doing it?

    As the daughter of a professional classical musician, my parents did not have the funds to pay for a babysitter when my brother and I were small. Consequently my first concert was to hear my dad play chamber music at the tender age of 9 weeks old! Of course, my mother would have been horrified to have either myself or my older brother disturb any performance and she therefore kept us quiet or removed us immediately from the hall if we started to become restless. Mostly, she prepared us for the rules of attending a performance and we understood them at a very young age. More often than not, we didn’t stay awake through the performance and she became adept at finding comfortable ways for us sleep on her lap or snuggled against her side. I cannot say with certainty that she never removed us from any performances, but I can tell you that attending live performances as a child made a huge impact on me. I did not become a professional musician as was my father, but I have worked in cultural organizations most of my life, including my current job of managing an international piano recital series and related educational programs. We warn parents that our concerts are generally for older children, but we would never turn away someone with a small child if they were able to stay quiet or understood that they should remove the child if they cannot stay quiet.

    Honestly, I am far more disturbed by the regular patron with the continuous cough who continues to hack through an actual performance rather than removing themselves (surely you all have experienced this annoyance yourselves) than I am by any child who makes a bit of noise before being removed from the hall.

  • John says:

    This topic always gets a LOT of comment on SD.

    Years ago I heard a story about a concert pianist who’d give dress rehearsals to invited audiences and would ASK them to create disturbances during his performances just so he’d be unflappable should something like that happen during a live performance.

    But really, I guess one would need to have been there to know just how distracting this was. In my performing days, I don’t think that disturbances bothered me, but then again, it really depends on the nature of what was going on. If it’s someone talking on their cell phone in the front row (an exaggeration, I hope!) that would be one thing. If it’s a lot of coughing in the hall on a winter evening, maybe that’s something else.

    I also remember a Victor Borge routine from many years back where he’d say to the audience (just before beginning a quiet Debussy piece) that “This is a number during which most people cough.” And of course the very suggestion of coughing would prompt a blizzard of coughing in the audience, after which Borge would say “See, I haven’t even started yet!”

    But yes, let the discussion continue. In the end, these things will be dealt with in one way or another.

  • CDH says:

    The orchestra nearest where I live has two series of concerts for the sprogs: some on the mainstage (full orchestra) for 5+ and some in a smaller venue for any age under 5 with ensembles of the orchestra. In the mainstage ones, the kids are encouraged to interact, make noise, move around a little if they want (they tend not to, except perhaps to dance in their places or in the aisle is they are sitting near it in dancey shows). They are too engrossed. The toddlers can move as they wish, though again the programmes are framed in lovely stories and costumes and the like, but they are actively encouraged to move about, maybe holding the hands of Mum or Dad.

    Both series are usually sold out. I think that is adequate opportunity for kids to be introduced to this particular orchestra until they are a little older.

    I think any orchestra is well within its rights to restrict the age on children to be admitted to regular series and standalone events. Until the kids are ready to sit still and quietly. And an concert hall is not a creche. If you can’t afford a baby-sitter you can’t afford to go. Some of us have long understood that we can’t have things just because we want them, when we want them. We recognise concepts like saving up and doing without — neither known to the generation of this mother and after.

  • Dee says:

    I understand both points of view here but consider this: If the child did end up disturbing the concert, the patrons would have become upset and the ushers would have been strongly reprimanded for not following the rules (as they have probably been reprimanded before for various reasons). It is totally unfair of this woman to put the ushers in that position and her sense of entitlement and inability to see what consequences could be for other people is truly awful.

  • Holly Golightly says:

    There really is NOWHERE adults can go these days without children present. I’ve searched and it’s becoming increasingly fruitless because parents are so entitled. The BSO made the right call, IMO. No child should be at an adult concert unless at least 7 years of age and then appropriately behaved (which they certainly are in Vienna!!).

    When I read words like “insulted”, “discriminated against” I can see this as the wedge in the door to get what people personally want and it’s a signal of their own entitlement. The are plenty of alternative activities to get babies into music.

  • Raymond says:

    The fact that this aggrieved woman saw fit to publicize her complaint on this web site (get ready for it) speaks volumes.

    If she doesn’t like the policy she should talk to management. Buying a ticket and challenging the house staff? Like she’s Rosa Parks?

    • Holly Golightly says:

      I agree with you and I think you’ll find there are truckloads of other people who do too. Yes, the clue resided in broadcasting her sense of grievance to the whole world. This is typical of the narcissism we deal with in society today.

      Rosa Parks, LOL!!!

      • Max Grimm says:

        I think many have started to build up a resistance to the multifarious petty cries of injustice haunting the blogosphere. What I find tiresome is when these complaints are about the treatment people received as a result of having broken rules and/or laws. Just because one disagrees with an existing rule or law, doesn’t give one the unfettered right to ignore them.
        Ms. Ohki apparently saw nothing wrong with ignoring the minimum age rule heading to Symphony Hall in the first place and then apparently thought “Whatever!” a second time, when she willfully ignored the usher, be he rude or not, when she attempted to sneak back into the concert hall.

        • Holly Golightly says:

          Actually, I regard political correctness and insults directed at people such as “racist”, “discrimination”, “I feel hurt, insulted, offended…”, “sexist” as the BULLYING of the 21st Century. People use these terms to get what they want…whether to bend the rules to suit themselves, or merely to have others think and behave as they do.

          I’m calling it out!!!

          • Max Grimm says:

            “I regard political correctness and insults directed at people such as “racist”, “discrimination”, “I feel hurt, insulted, offended…”, “sexist” as the BULLYING of the 21st Century”

            Hear, hear. Be aware of the Twitter-Justice-League though #shame one you #self-righteous #judgmentalism

  • Peter says:

    “my husband bought my 20 month old son and I tickets to a DRESS rehearsal”
    English is not my mothertongue and am wondering if this is correct grammar?
    Also she sounds unpleasant, self-entitled and whining. Probably that and her TV set once breaking down during her favorite show are the worst things that ever happened to her.
    It’s a strange time we are living in.
    Why do people think every opinion counts equally, stupid ones just like reasonable ones?
    Why is thinking so unpopular?

    • M2N2K says:

      Not my MT either, but this very common (at least in USA) grammatical error has been annoying me for years. Let it remain between you and me, though.

  • Aimee says:

    I have been taking my son to dress rehearsals of the Los Angeles Opera since he was 15 months old. He has never made any noise or fuss and to this day he loves opera. When he was younger he would occasionally fall asleep in the second act. Shame on those people who decided that all children will be noisy and will mis-behave. How about those adults who talk loudly, have cell phones that ring, and make noise opening candies? If there is no support amongst the younger generation for classical music it is because of cuts in music education in the schools and this ridiculous idea that concerts are not appropriate for children

  • Allie says:

    I am a violinist with a major US orchestra (not the BSO). I’m all for allowing children and babies at concerts and certainly rehearsals, with the understanding that they leave if they become restless. Children are a part of life. Let’s get the kids (and their parents) away from their screens and in front of live music!

    • Holly Golightly says:

      That “on the understanding” would never materialize and everybody knows it. The fact is that a great many children are very badly behaved these days and adults like myself are over it. And, of course, there are extremely well-behaved children but these pay the price because the majority are not. It’s just like the assumption everybody is trying to cheat the tax man because a few people do!!

      Sure there are adults who are noisy – but they are in the minority – and relativism is not a reason to include a whole new demographic of children simply because their parents feel they are entitled to it.

      What concerns me is the growing army of entitlement junkies we have in society. And when you see the worlds “insulted”, “offended”, “discriminated against” these are red flags because they are the badge of the hugely entitled (mostly younger) generation.

  • Edwin Lacy says:

    Taking a small child to a place where they have to be still and quiet for a long period of time will undoubtedly teach them to hate classical music.

  • Malin Walrod says:

    They should have a live video feed in another room where patrons who are late or those who plan to come and leave early (as this patron did) can enjoy the concert without risk of disturbing other audience members or the performers. The Metropolitan Opera does this and it is a brilliant solution!

  • Leona says:

    I am wondering if the people complaining about entitlement are the same people who roll their eyes and huff and puff because babies are crying on the plane… times have changed. Bringing a child to an open rehearsal is not about free childcare or entitlement, it’s about exposing children to experiences they will enjoy and learn from.

    This is not the Victorian era where children aren’t meant to be heard. As a musician and the wife of a composer, I think an open rehearsal is an absolutely appropriate time for babies/families to attend. Evening concerts, on the other hand, are usually late and more formal, so not appropriate.

    I applaud her efforts for getting the message out- social media is the perfect platform to change thinking as our society changes and grows. Stuffy attitudes are why our American orchestras are dying, so let’s get it out there that children need exposure to the arts to build appreciation and understanding. They will never learn appropriate behaviors if it’s not part of family routines and rituals.

    Yes, there will always be one screaming kid or one parent that doesn’t get the baby out fast enough for your liking, but it’s your choice to huff and puff and throw judgmental glares or to let it go and choose to enjoy the dress rehearsal.

    Seriously people, music is supposed to be about letting the music speak to you, not about one-up ping someone else. If you’re truly engrossed in the music, you won’t noticed a crying baby anyway. 😉

    • Michelle says:

      Sorry, I couldn’t disagree more. Your desire to expose your child to the arts does NOT give you the right to disrupt a concert. Do what my dad did when I was too young to go to the ADULT symphony. Play the music at home, or take them to a cildren’s concert. It is a false equivalent to compare a screaming baby on a plane to a screaming baby in a CONCERT HALL.

  • Brendan says:

    I’m sure the mother has every confidence in the child’s manners, but the fact remains that the orchestra can’t be assured by every well meaning mother they come across. The BSO needs to make the rules such that they assure a professional environment for their musicians. No one is going to be turned off of classical music forever because they didn’t get into a dress rehearsal when they were 20 months old.

  • Peter Benjamin says:

    I have a strong opinion regarding this topic.
    Musicians study for many years to learn their craft and then they prepare for many hours to do their best work. This art form requires perfectionism, nothing less. Opera also requires an environment that is completely free of interfering noises. A passing ambulance can ruin part of a performance. So can a loud child.
    Background note: I sang for Sarah Caldwell’s union chorus in the Opera Company of Boston for many years when Placido Domingo and Beverly Sills would join us in many fine operas. Sarah Caldwell would not let toddlers into her opera productions.
    Moving on, below is an example of how a major opera in New York City was temporarily ruined.
    Thirty five, or so years ago, I traveled to NYC to see the New York City Opera Company perform Boito’s magnificent opera, Mephistopheles, that I had heard on a recording. I was really excited to finally get to see and hear it live, and in person.
    And, it contains the most dramatic, intense prologue that I had ever experienced.
    This prologue is about a journey that The Devil has when he elevates himself up from Earth all the way to Heaven to bargain with God for the soul of Faust.
    This ascension lasts for over 20 minutes, complete with scrims, projections, 3 choruses (one of them a children’s chorus of cherubs, also a chorus of penitents, and a chorus of angels. The music is also written for a tremendously large orchestra performing in the pit in front of the stage, as well a second sonorous orchestra of brass instruments that eventually, majestically blasts away from up above us in the 3rd balcony at the climax moment when the Devil finally reaches the throne of God.
    If you have never heard this piece, get it. It is incredible. The ending of this prologue is one of the most wonderful, most enveloping, most inspiring moments I have ever heard in all of opera. Hang in here, I am getting to my point, lol.
    So I take my seat, 15 rows back from the stage center, let myself relax, the show starts. Samuel Ramey is incredible, so is the staging and the music, my mind has forgotten that I am sitting in a seat in a theater experiencing all of this. I have entered that almost impossible to reach realm of “Willing suspension of disbelief” (a theater term meaning the length of time when an audience member is completely enveloped into a production and has forgotten that he or she in a theater. That person is temporarily experiencing this journey as though it were real.
    Then, suddenly, a screaming child, frightened by the loud volume of the music, started to cry and scream. The audience was suddenly, heartlessly jolted back into reality and the magic of the prologue was ruined. The audience was now thinking about the screaming toddler that never should have been let into this production at her early age.
    The conductor, Julius Rudel, threw up his hands, stopped the entire production, then, after all was quiet, except for the child, he glared at the parent, and said for all to hear, “We have been forced to temporarily stop this production. We will go back and reset to the beginning of the Prologue, and we will start again ‘after’ this child is removed from this theater.”
    A tremendous ovation rose up from almost everyone that was there.
    This kind of thing just cannot happen. A production of this immensity and beauty is almost impossible to pull off successfully, it had been temporarily ruined.
    Fifteen minutes later, the Curtain rose again on this prologue. When the curtain descended at the end of it, the audience rose to its feet and enthusiastically screamed and clapped for many minutes. That is the time when this kind of noise should be heard from the audience.
    Thanks for hanging in here, Peter Benjamin, Boston

    • Michelle says:

      Hear, hear!!! I couldn’t agree more. I just had a DSO performance of Debussy’s Nocturnes ruined last Sunday by a screetching baby and her fidgeting parents. Thank heavens they finally had to leave.

  • hounddog8734 says:

    If you want to bring a baby to a concert (I mean a real one), then I would suggest you go to New York City. You see, back in the 90’s, NYC passed the Human Rights Act to prohibit age discrimination in public accommodations, and that includes the famous Carnegie Hall. So forget all the other concerts around the state, and just go to New York.

    If you feel like you’ve been discriminated against (because you took a baby to a symphony and got turned away) in New York City, you may submit a tip at:

  • Michelle says:

    Dress rehearsals require the exact same level of concentration and professionalism that performances do. Very young children do not belong in the concert hall, unless of course the concert is specifically geared toward them. The mother has no right to think that the rules should not apply to her and her precious bundle. That alone makes her appear to have a sense of entitlement. There was a time when parents were able to apply some objectivity and judgement about these kinds of things. No more. Rules are rules. They should never have been seated in the first place.

  • Please says:

    Please feel zero sympathy for this entitled privileged woman! She makes it her life mission to cry victimhood. She’s gotten people fired for these unfounded complaints.