Monday, November 5, 2012

Jackass at the symphony

So I'm enjoying the return of conductor Christof Perick to the podium of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Saturday night. And midway through the first piece, the overture to Carl Maria von Weber's opera "Der Freischutz," a cell phone goes off during a moment of absolute silence.

The ring was that old-fashioned sound phones used to have when they had dials. It was as loud as the phone in the hall of my college dorm, which was meant to be audible the length of the building. (I waited, reflexively, for someone to scream, "Hey, Toppman, it's for you.") A guy down front sheepishly got up and sidled out of Belk Theater.

Maybe this was my cue to abandon hope that people at arts events will learn how to USE THEIR *&^%$#@! TECHNOLOGY! True, the symphony didn't make a "Turn off your devices" announcement just before the concert, which could have helped. But I wonder whether anyone listens to those any more, or whether they've passed into the "heard but not received" category, along with instructions on airplanes about seat cushion flotation.

Concertgoers have learned not to talk or eat during a show  Why can't they learn -- reflexively, as they're first sitting down -- to turn off their phones, which are every bit as annoying and even more disruptive during classical music?

Unlike talking or eating, the cell phone offender also disrupts the experience for himself. He has to search his pockets, wearing a "Yes, I'm a dope" look, or get up and walk away to take the call. And when he comes back to his seat, people give him the fish eye.

This may be a lost cause. But by heaven and the spirit of Beethoven, it's worth fighting for!


Anonymous said...

Relax Larry. Folks make mistakes. Any chance it was a doctor or perhaps a new parent? "Jackass?" Really? Switch to decaf dude.

Rock Maninoff said...

Nothing wrong with hyperbole to make a point. But I understand how it happens. Since we have our phones with us 24/7 they aren't on our minds. I've caught myself several times in venues realizing my phone wasn't set to stun. Luckily it hasn't gone off before I could silence it. An announcement before a performance may be tacky, but I think it would help.