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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mahler, Displaced

New York Philharmonic Nixes Ninth.
by Paul Pelkonen
Image from PC World Magazine. Apple, the iPhone and the Apple logo are all © Apple.
The New York Philharmonic announced today that the program for this year's free Memorial Day Concert at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine has been changed.

The new program features a pairing of Debussy's La Mer with Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. Both works were integral parts of recent New York Philharmonic concerts, both at Avery Fisher Hall and during the orchestra's recent tour of California.

These replace a planned performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 9. Music director Alan Gilbert is still scheduled to conduct.

Readers of this blog might remember an incident at a January 11 performance of the Mahler Ninth at Avery Fisher Hall. Alan Gilbert was conducting the fourth and final movement of this 90-minute symphony when an iPhone belonging to an audience member started to ring repeatedly.

It sounded something like this: 

An irritated Mr. Gilbert halted the orchestra about two-thirds of the way through the movement, turned on the podium and confronted the offending party.

"Are you finished?" he asked. 

The man nodded. Once the phone was silenced, the concert continued, all the way to the quiet, contemplative final bars that Mahler wrote many decades before cell phones became part of the concert-going experience. 

It turns out that the concert-goer (whose name has been kept under wraps by the orchestra) had just received the offending digital assistant and did not know that the phone's alarm was on, and set to the "Marimba" ringtone. According to a story written in the New York Times by the indefatigable Dan Wakin, the gent didn't know how to turn the phone off, let alone disable its alarm.

The story of the interruption became an international sensation, with Superconductor being used as source material for coverage in the United Kingdom, Italy, and far away as Australia. 

If you are planning to attend the concert, on Monday May 28 (Memorial Day) at 8pm on at St. John the Divine, please arrive early. When you sit down, turn off your phones first. After all, you'll be in church.

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