Arts, Lighter, News

Mahler Symphony Gets An Unwelcome Addition

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The New York Philharmonic playing in Beijing
The New York Philharmonic playing at the National Grand Theatre in Beijing in 2008. Image: chrissuderman

When you go to hear live classical music, it’s usually quite a formal occasion.

The audience is respectful of the musicians.

Usually people even clap only at certain times. That’s so the beauty of the music isn’t interrupted.

The New York Philharmonic is a very famous classical music orchestra.

So you can imagine what people in the audience were thinking when, right in the middle of the soft and beautiful ending of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 – someone’s cell phone started ringing.

The person’s ringtone was a lively marimba song.

The phone kept ringing. And ringing. And ringing.

The conductor that night, Jan. 10, was Alan Gilbert. He did something that almost never happens. He stopped the concert.

As the phone kept ringing, people in the audience started shouting angrily at the person with the phone. But no one knew who it was.

The people in the front row, near where the phone was ringing, all checked their cell phones “just in case.”

Finally, the ringing stopped. The crowd cheered, and the concert finished.

The person who owned the phone does not want to be named because he is very embarrassed about what happened. The Philharmonic is identifying him as, simply, “Patron X.”

The man, in his 60s, has been attending classical concerts at the Philharmonic for 20 years. He loves classical music. He feels terrible about what happened.

In fact, he told the New York Times newspaper that he didn’t sleep for two days after the incident.

He hopes the audience and the orchestra members will forgive him.

He said he didn’t even realize it was his phone that was ringing. He had been given a new phone from his company the day before the concert. He turned it off, but its alarm had accidentally been turned on.

When the incident happened, he started pushing buttons on his phone. Other people in the front row did the same to their phones. The noise stopped. When he was driving home in the car he looked at his phone more closely and realized it had been his phone that had caused all the commotion.

Patron X had a chance to apologize to the conductor. The conductor said he realized that Patron X was getting a lot of bad publicity for the incident and he was sorry he had to go through it.

The conductor accepted Patron X’s apology.

Someone known as hanshorseback posted a cheeky video (35 seconds) on YouTube of the final moments of the Mahler symphony with the iPhone marimba ringtone over top of it. (This is not the actual symphony that took place on Jan. 10, but it will give you a sense of how it must have sounded.)

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Some people believe that as technology use has increased, manners have decreased. Behaviours that some people complain about are: phones ringing in quiet places, such as the library; people talking loudly on their phones in public; people checking their phones constantly when they are in the middle of a face-to-face conversation.

Do you think that some cell-phone behaviour is rude? Is so, why? If not, why?

Do you think that manners change as technologies change?

Reading Prompt:
Patron X feels incredibly embarrassed and sorry that his phone interrupted the concert.

Have you ever done something (on purpose or by accident) and you felt badly about it afterwards? Describe this experience and explain how you helped yourself feel better.

Primary
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Grammar Feature: Adjectives
Use adjectives (describing words) to describe how the orchestra members felt when the cell phone was ringing, how the audience members felt when the cell phone was ringing, and how Patron X felt when he noticed that it was his phone that disrupted the concert.