NY Philharmonic Stops When Cell Phone Won't Stop Ringing

The incessant "marimba" alarm clock so frustrated the New York Philharmonic orchestra conductor that he stopped the performance this week. Albert Gilbert and the rest of the audience heard the phone in the front row, which, according to one audience member continued for "5 minutes or so." This video is a mock-up of how the ringing may have interrupted Mahler's Symphony No. 9:

Gilbert stopped the orchestra and said, "We'll wait" and stared at the potential culprits in the front row. He then said, "Turn off the phone." But the phone didn't stop ringing, despite yells from the otherwise cultured audience: "Get out!" "Turn it off" "Throw them out!" Lincoln Center is investigating why its ushers didn't follow protocol and address the audience member.

So how did this happen, and why didn't the audience member turn off the phone?

"Patron X" didn't want to be identified but told the New York Times that his company just swapped his BlackBerry for an iPhone, and he didn't realize that an alarm was set. Although he thought he turned off his cell phone, the alarm went off anyway.

Gilbert accepted an apology, which Patron X explained to the New York Times:

"It was just awful to have any role in something like that, that is so disturbing and disrespectful not only to the conductor but to all the musicians and not least to the audience, which was so into this concert."

"I hope the people at that performance and members of the orchestra can certainly forgive me for this whole event. I apologize to the whole audience."

Discussion Starters:

  • The Washington Post Style Blog offers these cell-phone etiquette suggestions for performances. Do you agree with these? What other steps would you recommend to audience members?
  • Do you buy Patron X's explanation? Could this happen to any of us?
  • What's your view of texting during a movie?