Man Whose iPhone Interrupted New York Philharmonic Hasn’t Slept in Two Days: ‘It’s Horrible, Horrible’

marimbashot500x346 Man Whose iPhone Interrupted New York Philharmonic Hasnt Slept in Two Days: Its Horrible, Horrible

Doot doot doot doot doot doot doot doot doot.

The New York Times has dredged up the offender responsible for the iPhone marimba disruption during a concert of the New York Philharmonic earlier this week. An executive between 60 and 70 who runs two companies, he confessed his guilt to the paper of record on condition of anonymity. “You can imagine how devastating it is to know you had a hand in that,” he told the Times. “It’s horrible, horrible.”

He had not slept in two days, he said.

The man is a classical music fan and 20-year subscriber to the orchestra, but he neglected to turn off his alarm because he had just gotten an iPhone to replace his BlackBerry. He didn’t realize one needed to turn the alarm off separately, he said, or that one was set. “I didn’t even know phones came with alarms,” he said.

But as Mr. Gilbert was glaring in his direction, he fiddled with the phone as others around him did, just to be sure, pressing buttons. That was when the sound stopped. It was only in the car going home that his wife checked the settings on his phone and found that the alarm had been set.

The conductor was so outraged by the interruption that he stopped the concert and walked into the audience and reprimanded the iPhone owner, who was sitting in the front row.

An orchestra official called the patron the next day and politely rebuked him again. The patron asked for the opportunity to apologize to the conductor, who accepted his apology.

In a Twitter message, the composer Daniel Dorff said, “Changed my ringtone to play #Mahler 9 just in case.” A YouTube poster superimposed a marimba sound over a performance of the piece by Leonard Bernstein.

“It was just awful to have any role in something like that, that is so disturbing and disrespectful not only to the conductor but to all the musicians and not least to the audience, which was so into this concert,” the patron told the Times.


  1. I think getting publicly rebuked by the New York Philharmonic and making the national news is punishment enough.  People make mistakes and I can bet this guy won’t make the same mistake again.  Now, if the New York Philharmonic were smart, they’d try to get this guy to do a PSA about turning off your cellphones before performances!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Hah! That is a great idea. Apparently now they have Alec Baldwin doing it.

  2. A.J. Minhas says:

    It’s been a while since I went to the symphony, but I can recall back in the 80’s when the Baltimore Symphony handed out free cough drops during what appeared to be a minor epidemic of coughing during concerts. This appears to be genuine mistake on the part of the patron, who probably should have had his device turned off completely for the concert. We are asked by the movie theaters to silence or turn off our cellphones to preserve the cinematic experience. Unfortunately, over the past few years I’ve noticed moviegoers, mostly in the younger crowd, using their iPhones or other smartphones during the movie. It’s very distracting when the bright light of the display interferes with the movie experience in a darkened theater. Why did they even come to the movie if they feel the need to constantly be on their smartphone? On rare occasion, I’ve encountered individuals having a conversation on the phone during the movie with no regard for anybody else. It is a sign of the times where respect and manners in public places appear to have gone the way common courtesy.

    1. MercuryPDX says:

      This is why I invested in a decent home theater system, and stopped going out to the movies altogether.

      1. Rajah Bujah says:

        Same here. I can’t stand seeing movies in theaters anymore largely because of cell phones. It was bad enough when you got the occasional clowns who loved to talk loudly during the movie adding their own commentary to it as if everyone in the theater needed to hear what they had to say, but with all the texting and phone calls that happened during my last three movie trips, I’ve just given up. Now I wait till it’s out on disc and I can watch it at home sans the “I’m so important, I need to use my phone during a movie I paid to see” crowd.

  3. Cbetzwilliams says:

    I think that getting publicly scolded by the conducter was quite enough without the Philharmonic calling him and rebuking him too. Come on people….we all make mistakes. No one died because of it, a war hasn’t started over it. Be peaceful. be forgiving. And you, Sir, who made the unintentional error-please forgive yourself and get a little sleep.  All is well.

  4. Rajah Bujah says:

    I’d forgive anyone who was that humbled and disturbed by it.

    The teenagers and 20 somethings who think that hearing from their BFFs at movie theaters is important enough to break the experience for others are the ones who should be flogged in the media.

    Keep your phone turned off entirely at public venues like that. If you really need to be able to receive urgent phone calls and messages then movie theaters, symphonies, and the like are not places you should be. It really is that simple.

  5. Frances says:

    “The conductor was so outraged by the interruption that he stopped the concert and walked into the audience and reprimanded the iPhone owner, who was sitting in the front row.”

    I was at the concert on Tuesday, sitting at the rear at the orchestra level. The conductor didn’t walk into the audience and reprimand the guy –nor did he act “outraged.” He never left the stage. 
    Evidently the phone started ringing during the previous few minutes, when the music was louder. I couldn’t hear it until just about the time that Alan Gilbert stopped the music. But by that time the ringing was louder than the music, which was fading away to a beautiful, heartbreaking ending. The iPhone kept ringing and ringing, so he put down the baton and said, “We’ll wait.” A few people yelled in the direction of the iPhoner, but that quickly stopped as the audience shusshed them. Gilbert was poised throughout, though disbelieving that no one was turning off the phone. The story now makes sense. Who knew that iPhones and perhaps others aren’t completely “off” if an alarm has been set.Suggest that for all the interest in this cultural touchpoint, those that don’t know the piece go to YouTube and listen to it. It’s absolutely beautiful. If you listen through to the finale, the 4th movement, you’ll understand how a cell phone could ruin the experience for you. And for all who have written on other blogs about the ‘snobbishness’ of classical music, I wish you’d all been to the NY Phil’s Memorial Concert last Sept. for the 9-11 victims and the first responders. The concert hall was full of their families, and those that survived. The orchestra played Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, the Resurrection Symphony. The hall was absolutely silent throughout the long piece, erupting in hoots and hollers and thunderous applause for a long time afterwards. I wasn’t in NY those ten years ago, but I was in tears at the end of that concert, as were so many around me. You don’t need to know a thing about music to enjoy the heartbreakingly gorgeous sounds of Mahler played by the New York Philharmonic. 

  6. Wheresmybailout says:

    NY Philharmonic Cellphone Guy strikes again:

  7. Livingstonfam46 says:

    Please please, if you are reading this patron with the iphone, FORGIVE yourself and forget it!! Seriously. I was in the audience and yes, at first it is a shock, and then you realize that it is still going off because someone can’t figure out how to get the darn thing silenced, just like any and ALL of us have been in the same position. Sympathy goes out immediately to the person because it is HUMAN. So, forgive yourself and forget it. Your apology was so heartfelt and true, that, goodness you have by far made up for it!!

  8. Jacobego says:

    White people problems.