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- Posted on Jan 12th 2012 12:00PM by Cameron Matthews
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According to the Daily Mail, venerable conductor Alan Gilbert was on the final page of the chilling piece. The strings had come to roaring crescendo as some of Mahler's most emotional music sauntered toward the end. Suddenly, the calming silence was broken.
A marimba sounded. But not just any old marimba -- an iPhone marimba.
A front-row spectator had not turned off his phone, which chimed and chimed during the Philharmonic's epic climax. Classical music blogger Michael Jo reports, "When we reached that passage, 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 throughout Avery Fisher Hall."
In most circumstances, the conductor, musicians and audience will try their hardest to push the offending sound out of their minds. But the marimba didn't stop chiming, which aggravated Gilbert beyond belief. The conductor stopped the orchestra, turned to the cell phone owner and said "Are you finished?" The man did not audibly answer the maestro, causing Gilbert to say "Fine, we'll wait."
While the spectator tried to shut off the clanging phone, several audience members shouted "Thousand dollar fine!" and "Kick him out!" while others shushed the crowd to remain calm. Gilbert finally received confirmation from the accused that it wouldn't happen again, and then spoke directly to the audience, "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."
The hall erupted in applause as the Philharmonic prepared to begin again. The piece finished triumphantly without any other interruptions, but fans were noticeably annoyed and disappointed by the dreaded marimba.
According to Jo's Thousandfold Echo blog, the front-row attendee had allowed his phone to clang in an earlier movement and did nothing to stop it. Mahler's work is especially important to the Philharmonic, as he conducted the famous company during the final years of his life. Now he is quite possibly rolling in his grave.