The scourge of the modern concert hall (not high ticket prices or ultra-conservative programming), but a ringing cell phone chimed in during the hushed finale of the Symphony. According to reports it wasn't just one ring, but one continuous ring. Gilbert stopped the performance, spun around on the podium and signaled for the phone to be turned off. It wasn't. Gilbert reportedly said to the phone's owner, "You have a phone...Fine, we'll wait." Audience members pointed out the offender and shouted "Throw him out!" After the phone was quieted, Gilbert apologized to the audience, "Usually, when there's a disturbance like this, it is best to ignore it, but this was so egregious." Cue audience applause.
I don't know Maestro Gilbert personally, but I've seen him on the podium, watched him in videos and attended a press conference this past summer where he spoke eloquently and intelligently about the composer Carl Nielsen. Alan Gilbert seems to be a nice man and not quick to anger. Maybe that's the problem. Perhaps audiences would be a bit more attentive to the mute button on their phone ringers or, oh wonders, turn the things off when entering the concert hall if there was a fire-breathing conductor on the podium. You know, a conductor with a reputation for breaking batons and stomping the foot. How would some legendary conductors of the past deal with cell phones, texting, crinkling plastic bags, clanging jewelry and other intrusions on a performance?
How about Fritz Reiner and his legendary temper? A musician reportedly once said that "Any day he failed to lose his temper was a day when he was too sick to conduct."
|You! Turn off that cell phone!|
George Szell's scathing sarcasm and temper intimidated plenty of the Cleveland Orchestra's players. Szell was not easy to love and his feud with Metropolitan Opera boss Rudolf Bing is legend. Told by a colleague that Szell was his own worst enemy, Bing replied, "Not while I'm alive!"
|Szell commands silence.|
|Would you dare anger this man?|