There’s an awful lot of fuss being made today about Alan Gilbert’s confrontation with a NY Phil patron whose cell phone went off during the final measures of Mahler’s 9th Symphony last night.  The errant twitwit aside, internet response seems to be squarely on the maestro’s side, and I concur.  I think he handled splendidly.  I don’t even blame the ushers for not stepping in — they too must have been stunned and reluctant to cause more of a stir by swooping in to discipline a patron seated in the middle of the front row as the last embers of Romanticism died away on stage.

The reports confirm everyone’s suspicions: the offender was an Older Person, so chances are this was an unwitting error on his part.  How many oldsters do you know who regularly hear their cell phone ring in a public (or private) setting?  That’s what I thought.

But just last week, I was witness to an audience disruption of a very different sort, one that the press has overlooked entirely.  Picture it: Cincinnati, 2012.  Music Hall.  The Cincinnati Symphony is on stage with Emmanuel Ax playing the Mozart 22nd piano concerto.  The charming first movement cadenza comes to a close and the orchestra re-enters.  It’s a sublime moment, smile-inducing and soul-restoring.  And it’s the very moment when some hooligan in the rafters applauds and barks out a Tim Allenesque bro-call.

Now here’s the thing: I so wish that this idiot had chosen a different concerto/cadenza for his little outburst, because given the right repertoire, I would be totally supportive of this kind of thing.  I’ve been preaching a long time about how we ought to be clapping between movements (since the composers usually WROTE their symphonies with that very reaction in mind) so why not at the end of cadenzas too, alla jazz performance practice?

Sure.  Fine.  Sounds great, but it depends on which concerto and which cadenza.  The Khatchaturian violin concerto?  By all means yes, everyone should be on their feet applauding the end of that cadenza when a violinist really nails it.  That’s what it’s there for.  I mean, that’s basically what the whole concerto is there for – it’s a virtuoso showpiece, and the cadenza takes up like half of the first movement.  Why should we just sit there?  To show reverence for one of the dumbest themes in the repertoire being played in the orchestra?  Ugh.

Dude.  Seriously.  It’s Mozart’s Eb piano concerto.  It’s not showy, it’s not splashy, it’s just gorgeous.  You know you were just trying to get attention and make a “statement” about jazz or classical or something.  Come on.



This Mahler 9 incident is shahocking.

Did Ax appear to hear the call after his cadenza? Also, I love that concerto dearly. Such a great slow mvt with the winds.


I once tried to occupy the urinal next to Maestro Gilbert in Santa Fe in 2001. He stopped what he was doing, looked at me in the eye and said, “Are you finished?” I didn’t know what to say, and he continued, “Fine. I’ll wait.” I wasn’t done but I was so embarrassed I zippered up and left. I wet my pants on the lawn shortly after. Later, he saw me in the cantina said, “Guilty”.

I never went back to sing in Santa Fe.


I once peed next to the dude from the Corrs. Which isn’t much of a “the most famous person I ever peed next to story”, but there you have it.

Michael Monroe

Oh, c’mon, the Khachaturian violin concerto has an amazing theme (seriously). That’s actually my favorite part – I’m not sure I ever made it to the cadenza, though.


I think my favorite part of that piece is the opening of the third movement which totally sounds like Drum Corps Gone Wild.

Cottage Negress

482 is very showy! In a more restrained way than Khachaturian, perhaps. Nonetheless, I applaud your sentiment. What a wonderful concerto. I forgot how much I enjoy your blog. xx

Comments are closed.