Alan Gilbert, the New York Philharmonic orchestra music director, stopped the orchestra in its tracks when a mobile phone went off during a performance.
Alan Gilbert was so appalled by the continuing distraction during one of the most poignant parts of the performance that he brought the musicians to a standstill.
The phone’s Marimba ring-tone went off from a front row seat of New York’s Avery Fisher Hall during Tuesday night’s performance, according to eyewitnesses.
The untimely interruption happened during the final and most moving bars of the Mahler Ninth symphony, just 13 bars before the beginning of the last page of the score, blogger Michael Jo reported.
Michael Jo wrote on his blog thousandfold echo: “As Alan Gilbert turned to the first violins and the sound grew ever more hushed and veiled, the unmistakable chimes of the iPhone Marimba ringtone resounded loud and clear.”
In an almost unprecedented measure, an obviously annoyed Alan Gilbert cut the orchestra.
The conductor then turned around on the podium to face the offender, music student Kyra Sims, told the superconductor blog.
During a pause of several minutes the music director asked: “Are you finished?” When the culprit didn’t reply Alan Gilbert said: “Fine, we’ll wait.”
Some furious members of the audience called out for punishment: “Thousand dollar fine, Get out!” and “Kick him out! were all heard”
When the ringing eventually stopped Alan Gilbert asked the man if he had turned off the phone. The man indicated that it wouldn’t go off again.
Addressing the audience the conductor said: “I apologize. Usually, when there’s a disturbance like this, it is best to ignore it, because addressing it is sometimes worse than the disturbance itself. But this was so egregious that I could not allow it.”
“We’ll start again.”
Mahler Ninth is the composer’s final completed symphony, the last movement of which is a measured contemplation on death that ultimately falls silent.
The composer’s work has special meaning to the New York Philharmonic which Mahler conducted during the final years of his life.