Not All Bad Behavior is Committed by the Young

Posted on January 17, 2012


I am sure by now you have read the New York Times article, “Ringing Finally Ended, but There’s No Button to Stop Shame” by Daniel J. Wakin (Published: January 12, 2012).  He reports, “The unmistakably jarring sound of an iPhone marimba ring interrupted the soft and spiritual final measures of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 at the New York Philharmonic on Tuesday night. The conductor, Alan Gilbert, did something almost unheard-of in a concert hall: He stopped the performance. But the ringing kept on going, prompting increasingly angry shouts in the audience directed at the malefactor.”

It turns out the culprit was a long time patron of the Philharmonic who happened to switch phones that night, bringing his new iphone with him to the concert.  Unbeknownst to him the phone’s alarm was set to go off during the concert and would be audible even if the phone was on silence mode, which it was.

The morale of the story as told by the reporter was, “the incident underscored “the very enduring and important bond between the audience and the performers,” the patron said, adding, “If it’s disturbed in any significant way, it just shows how precious this whole union is.””

I see it a little differently. The union between the audience and the performers is precious but it is never perfect, and sometimes that union is disrupted unintentionally and not always by young patrons; at least they generally know how to use their phones.