Poll: Cell Phones in Concert Halls

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

When the New York Philharmonic recently launched its second season of CONTACT contemporary-music series, it invited bloggers and other tech-savvy listeners to update their Twitter feeds, blogs, and Facebook pages during the concert (albeit in a special section of the theater). Other arts presenters are encouraging the use of smartphones and other personal technology in performances. How do you feel about this trend?


More in:

Comments [35]



Oct. 14 2011 12:51 PM
Jan Marchellos from Scotchtown, NY

Some people just don't get it. Why go to a live performance if you want play with your toys? They cannot be enjoying it so they ruin it for everyone else. Egotists!

Jan. 21 2011 12:27 PM

I have a cell phone(old one) which I really don't like and someone gave it to me for a gift. My cell is turned off 98% of the time.
Cell phones have created a rude, thoughtless and disrespectful society and to use them for texting or even speaking at any performance---classical music, play, opera even a movie---shows that individual as an ignorant individual.

Jan. 19 2011 11:47 AM
Barbara Miles from Brooklyn

It's called respect and good taste. I'm always surprised to see people reading the paper during a rehearsal - and during a concert? Never. We are inundated with cell phones everywhere. We and the performers deserve a break.

Jan. 18 2011 03:16 PM
eliza \ from New York

Anyone using an electronic device during a concert or opera should be unceremoniously removed from the hall by security if necessary.
Perhaps they won't return and it will be a message to others who might think of using electronics during a concert in the future.

Jan. 18 2011 02:09 PM
Andrew DiLauro from NJ

Asinine. Not only is it a good idea to banish these devices from concert halls, but an even better idea to banish them from the planet.

Dec. 06 2010 06:30 AM
Michael Meltzer

It seems that when people engaging in anti-social behavior find some peers doing the same thing, they institutionalize it by thinking up a big, fat euphemism. Our transgressors in the concert hall are "multi-tasking." It would be helpful (and the media could help) by calling a spade a spade: they are refusing to leave their toys in the playroom. They are, effectively, five years old.
Similarly, people exhibiting "road rage" are allowed to call it "macho," whereas if it were called "sandbox behavior," some of the culprits might decide to grow up.

Dec. 06 2010 12:48 AM
Howard Marder from Manhattan

Last night at the Orpheus concert at Carnegie Hall someone in the Parquet had an iPad out during the performance. The light from the screen disturbed all those sitting around him to the detriment of the orchestra, the guest artist (Kate Royal) and the composers whose music they were playing. If you have to bring your iPad, you shouldn't be there in the first place.

Dec. 05 2010 06:34 PM
Steve from White Plains

So, it's come to this, has it? Rude clowns 1, culture, 0. And the truly sad part is, we didn't even put up much of a fight. Did you ever listen to these 'vital communications' that interupt our lives? 99% of the time, it's nothing but pure banality. As Ray Bradbury put it in Farenheit 451, "They say nothing, nothing, nothing, and they say it loud, loud, LOUD!

Dec. 05 2010 08:43 AM

As long as they let me keep playing Tetris during the performance.

Dec. 03 2010 06:13 PM
Rita Folenta from Chatham, N.J.

I feel if someone needs the distraction of a cell phone they truely do not know what classical music is all about. This music should embrace all of your senses.

Dec. 03 2010 03:59 PM
Joe from New York, NY

Dumb, stupid, and inconsiderate to others around you. Why bother going.

Dec. 03 2010 03:11 PM
D. Hanning from Manhattan

This is a terrible idea. It is disrespectful to the artists and to those sitting around anyone using a "device". A live performance is to be treasured, not interrupted.

Dec. 03 2010 07:38 AM
Morty Rosner

I think we should also encourage people to play tennis during concerts or at the very least to toss balls around the concert hall. This will provide an outlet for those with attention deficit issues. Wouldn't you just love to listen to the adagio molto movement of Beethoven's 9th while part of the audience twitters and tosses ! Have we all gone mad?

Dec. 02 2010 12:03 PM
cjraymond from nyc

- Agree with barbara spender's comment - Using a smartphone during any performance is a terrible idea....texting in a darkened area is most distracting - the illumination and busy fingers are really disruptive to concentration .....

Dec. 02 2010 12:01 PM
Michael Meltzer

We attend live solo and chamber recitals and orchestral concerts even though we have excellent recordings and equipment to play them. We do so because we find the live experience more intense and exciting, but if we haven't ever been a performer, we're not always aware why that is.
The listener is actually a part of the live performance. When he or she is moved by the performer, the listener's energy becomes a palpable force that exhilarates and drives the performer and something special happens. Don't ask me how, but it does. It goes back and forth and it just doesn't happen with a CD, sorry about that.
Electronic devices and other distractions will throw a big, fat monkey wrench into that dynamic, and everyone will be cheated out of that special experience by the piggishness and arrogance of a few basket cases, who should be seeking treatment for attention deficit disorder.

Dec. 02 2010 10:46 AM
Bonnie from Manhattan

Generally, I think this is a horrible idea, and agree with the "anti" comments above citing distraction to serious listeners.
However, at the top of this page I noticed that the proposal mentions seating tweeters/ bloggers in a designated area. That could, possibly, work, but ONLY if it's large enough to accommodate all those wishing to tweet/blog. That's a big "if".

Dec. 02 2010 10:14 AM
Roger from Staten Island

I don't know what the fuss is about. If I want to check my e-mail during a concert, it may be the artist's fault for delivering a boring performance. Besides, let's face it, most of us can still listen to music while doing other things in this day and age. Twitter away people!

Dec. 02 2010 07:27 AM

If you can't devote all your attention to the artist, why did you come to the concert? I am in favor of forbidding ALL electronic devices during the performance. A complicating factor is the rise of informal venues -- half cabaret, half concert hall -- for new music. It's one thing to switch seats or buy drinks during program pauses, but texting DURING A PERFORMANCE is an insult to the musicians.

Also, pictures, video, and audio recordings raise major copyright issues. Read the fine print on your ticket.

Dec. 02 2010 12:41 AM
Pete from New York

A lighted screen anywhere within my lines of sight will be a distraction, will cause me to be irritated, and reduce the enjoyment of the concert. I can accept it if there is one part of the concert hall set aside for tweeters, preferably behind everybody else, and all ticket purchasers are alerted to that being the tweeting section.

Dec. 01 2010 10:54 PM
Dr. Duane Meyer from Upper Montclair, NJ

Anything diverting one's attention at a concert is disrespectful. Also, one's dress is noteworthy. I never go to a Broadway show or NJPAC concert without a shirt, jacket, & tie. It's a sign of respect for the professional performers! Why pay $120 for a ticket, and go dressed like you were going to the supermarket?

Dec. 01 2010 10:48 PM
Renate from NYC

Disgusting. That anyone even comes up with an idea like this is rude, thoughtless and disgracefully stupid. What ever happened to decent behavior in the area of manners and consideration for others? In this day and age it seems barely to exist in any area whatsoever.

Dec. 01 2010 10:06 PM
Michael Meltzer

Compulsive, stupid, childish, inconsiderate of one's neighbors and disrespectful to the performers.
The adminstrators of this need to go back to school.

Dec. 01 2010 09:27 PM
Daphne H Romeo from Westcher, NY

It is a terrible idea.
I attend a concert to observe the players and listen to their music. I can live without e-mails, twitters, facebook, etc.!

Dec. 01 2010 08:44 PM
Paul from Bergenfield, NJ

The idea that anyone would want to "keep up" with the outside world during a concert is a reflection of people's fear that they're "missing something" when they set foot in a concert hall, museum, theater, or other artistic space. In fact, we're really missing nothing, but gaining surcease from the continual bombardment of information and demands from the outside world.

Dec. 01 2010 07:58 PM

In principle, the debate over whether it's appropriate to text during a performance is much ado about nothing. Some people have been writing notes by hand all along, so in that sense, I don't see what the difference is. The trouble is that most people can't be discrete about it - screens tend to light up in a distracting way, but if one can dim the screen or if its not a dark space, it might not be an issue.
But why anyone would want to encourage such behavior is beyond me. I agree with suze. The last thing the world needs is more inane twittering.

Dec. 01 2010 07:27 PM
diane bacigalupo

Today's generation is addicted to their electronic devices. If you wish to attend a performance then give it your time, attention and respect. Take you device and use it outside during intermission or wait for the end of the performance.

Dec. 01 2010 06:46 PM
Elayne Horn from NYC

Inviting distractions in the concert hall. I can't think of a worse addition to the musical experience.

Dec. 01 2010 05:58 PM

It is extremely disturbing; I would choose not to attend any performances in the Hall that permits this.

Dec. 01 2010 05:40 PM
suze from Manhattan

Stop trying to appeal to the gadget-attached audience whose multi-tasking is ruining all aspects of society. One more reason to avoid Avery Fisher Hall.

Dec. 01 2010 05:26 PM
Charles Connell from Morristown, NJ

This is a terrible idea. Don't encourage these boors. That is one thing they don't need.

Dec. 01 2010 05:25 PM

Bad idea..it is so distracting to others. I see no upside to this.

Dec. 01 2010 05:19 PM
Burton Spielman from Madison, NJ

Absolutely, unequivocally, NO!

Despite requests to the contrary, selfish concertgoers still insist on using their instruments during concerts, disturbing other people who have actually come to hear the music. One cannot concentrate on the performance while texting, tweeting, rustling through the program, adjusting jewelry or other selfish acts.

Did I say "selfish"? That's all it is--"It's all about ME, and to hell with anybody else's concertgoing experience!"

Absolutely, unequivocally, NO!

Dec. 01 2010 05:13 PM
Richard A. Pace from NYC

That flash of light from a mobile device in a dark concert hall pulls your eye away from the performance. It really breaks the mood.

Dec. 01 2010 05:08 PM
barbara spender

TERRIBLE IDEA! The lights from these devices is incredibly distracting during the performance. Why on earth would NY Philharmonic want to do this? Good reason for us to avoid their concerts.

Dec. 01 2010 05:07 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Follow WQXR