That dreaded marimba tone … The scornful faces … The dawning realisation that it’s your phone … The red-faced struggle through the pockets … We’ve all been there, but rarely in as rarified circumstances as the Avery Fisher Hall during a performance of Mahler’s 9th by the New York Philharmonic. And very few of us become the target of such internet anger as one unfortunate concert goer.
Last week, a concert was stopped by the conductor, angered at the tell-tale iPhone tone. In an impressive piece of reporting, the New York Times tracked down the unwitting malefactor, who, under guarantee of anonymity, spoke of his shame:
“You can imagine how devastating it is to know you had a hand in that,” said the man, who described himself as a business executive between 60 and 70 who runs two companies. “It’s horrible, horrible.” The man said he had not slept in two days.
The man, called Patron X by the Philharmonic, said he was a lifelong classical music lover and 20-year subscriber to the orchestra who was friendly with several of its members. He said he himself was often irked by coughs, badly timed applause — and cellphone rings. “Then God, there was I. Holy smokes,” he said.
“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,” he said by telephone.
Actually, Patron X said he had no idea he was the culprit. He said his company replaced his BlackBerry with an iPhone the day before the concert. He said he made sure to turn it off before the concert, not realizing that the alarm clock had accidentally been set and would sound even if the phone was in silent mode.
And here comes the saddest sentence of 2012 (so far):
“I didn’t even know phones came with alarms,” the man said.