Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Pianist Christian Zacharias Halts Concert to Berate Cellphone User
Friday, October 25, 2013 - 10:00 AM
Franz Joseph Haydn was known for his musical jokes and clever asides but the sound of a cellphone clearly wasn't one he had envisioned.
The pianist Christian Zacharias halted a performance Wednesday night with the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden after an audience member's phone began to ring during Haydn's Piano Concerto in D major.
The incident was filmed and immediately produced for a three-minute video that was widely disseminated on YouTube. It has received more than 50,000 views as of Friday morning.
In the video, Zacharias, who is conducting from the piano, reaches a gentle solo phrase in the concerto’s slow movement when the phone becomes to chime. He abruptly stops, looks back and says, "Don't answer. Let it ring."
The video cuts to a pair of visibly exasperated violinists. After some moments of awkward silence, Zacharias resumes the performance.
In an e-mail, Måns Pär Fogelberg of GSOPlay, which films concerts from Gothenburg Concert Hall, said the offender hasn't come forward. "As far as we know (talking to the conductor, concertmaster and the producer), no one stepped up afterwards and claimed the ownership of either of the two phones that went off during the concert," wrote Fogelberg.
Unlike the cries for blood after a phone went off at a New York Philharmonic concert in 2012, the response in Sweden was more subdued. "The reaction from our audience came in e-mails and Facebook comments yesterday," said Fogelberg. "Not a riot, but some really sour ones."
The orchestra is now planning to enhance its reminders to audiences to switch off their phones. Watch the video below: