Monday, September 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Another cell phone incident - this time in Philadelphia

It wasn't as disruptive as the New York Philharmonic cell phone ring heard around the world, but Thursday night in Verizon Hall, a ringer caused a bit of disruption. The New York Times has a piece about how the Philharmonic's episode has earned points for its music director, Alan Gilbert.

Another cell phone incident - this time in Philadelphia

It wasn't as disruptive as the New York Philharmonic cell phone ring heard around the world, but Thursday night in Verizon Hall, a ringer caused a bit of disruption. The New York Times has a piece about how the Philharmonic's episode has earned points for its music director, Alan Gilbert.

What was interesting about Thursday night's cell phone outburst is that the recorded announcement asking audience members to turn off electronic devices had just sounded. I think recorded routines like that just become wallpaper - because people have come to expect them, they don't really hear them anymore.

The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society has a better idea. For years, just before the concert starts, all-around-do-everything-guy Miles Cohen walks out on stage, holds up his cell phone, turns it off, and reminds listeners to do the same. It's hard to ignore a real person. In all my years of going to PCMS concerts, I don't think I've ever heard a cell phone go off. It's a smart, polite way of handling the problem. Then again, just about everything PCMS does is smart.

Maybe all this defiance - finally drawing a line in the sand about noise during concerts - will be good for classical music?

BTW, here's a silver lining from the New York incident. A friend of mine - an orchestra veteran - was there, and reported: "...to my ears, the Phil came alive in the last 8 minutes of the Mahler after resuming the end of the concert. Their energy, sense of the moment, and presence far exceeded what came before. Fun to be there!"

Addendum: I spoke too soon. This from a correspondent. "A cell phone went off last night during Pepe Romero's recital at the Chamber Music Society. Music went on, uninterrupted by reaction."

Peter Dobrin Inquirer Classical Music Critic
About this blog

Peter Dobrin is a classical music critic and culture writer for The Inquirer. Since 1989, he has written music reviews, features, news and commentary for the paper, covering such topics as the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the Venice Biennale, expansion of the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia Orchestra's bankruptcy declaration in 2011, Philadelphia's evolving performing arts center and the general health of arts and culture.

Dobrin was a French horn player. He earned an undergraduate degree in performance from the University of Miami, and received a master's degree in music criticism from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Elliott Galkin. He has no time to practice today.

Reach Peter at pdobrin@phillynews.com.

Peter Dobrin Inquirer Classical Music Critic
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