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Maestro Recounts iPhone Interruption At Lincoln Center

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Conductor Alan Gilbert (credit: CBS 2)

Conductor Alan Gilbert (credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An intense moment of musical magic was interrupted by an iPhone, and CBS 2’s Tony Aiello spoke with the conductor who made the shocking decision to stop the show.

It was the iPhone interruption the maestro will always remember.

“This ring tone was going on and on and on and it was actually the loudest thing in the hall,” said conductor Alan Gilbert. “There was so much tension and there was such a stunned feeling I think for everybody in the room but certainly for the musicians.”

Tuesday night at Lincoln Center, as Gilbert led the New York Philharmonic in the mournful final movement of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, an iPhone started ringing in the front row.

The “Marimba” ringtone just kept ringing.

“Audience members started shaking their heads, sort of clucking, craning their necks to see who it is, but it keeps going and going and going,” recounted Jennifer Maloney of the Wall Street Journal, who was seated nearby.

It got to the point where Gilbert couldn’t ignore it.

“Something had to be done, so we had to stop the music,” he said. “You lose your bearings, and have to orient yourself and that’s how it felt to me. It’s like ‘okay, what do we do? We have to finish this piece somehow,'” he said.

“Meanwhile the audience is going nuts. They were shouting, they were jeering, they were saying ‘throw him out!’ They were really angry,” Maloney said.

Finally the audience member switched off the phone and Gilbert got back to the music.

“Usually we grin and bear it and say ‘okay, that’s the price of living in the cell phone age,’ but there was just no way we could go on,” he said.

Gilbert can only hope this musical interlude never makes an encore.

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