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Classical 101

Why are We Afraid to Disconnect?

The Musikverein in Vienna

David Patrick Stearns,  music critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, was absolutely giddy at the prospect of hearing the Philadelphia Orchestra in the Musikverein in Vienna.  One of the cellists proclaimed, "We're home," when he stepped into the hall, a reaction brought on by the repertoire which had it's beginning in that part of the world.

For me, walking into such a storied hall to experience a performance would be mind-boggling.  I would want to take in every second, as to not miss a moment.


It would seem, however, that there are those for whom the experience is so commonplace that they need something to occupy their attention during the performance.

Their cell phone.

As Stearns was settling in for the performance, a nearby patron was digging through her purse.  In his words,

"...one woman pulled out her phone just as Lisa Batiashvili had begun the quiet, slow-burning opening movement of Shostakovich's Violin Concerto No. 1. Only eight rows from the stage, the phone kept beeping and burbling, its owner entranced by it and oblivious to those nearby shooting her daggers."

Stearns said he went on to address the problem in the only way that seemed it would work...he snatched the phone from her hands and put it in his pocket until intermission.  (No word on whether she returned for the second half.)  He said there was another person nearby doing the same thing but, unfortunately, out of reach.

There was a time when you would occasionally see someone slip into a theatre or meeting to let a physician know that someone needed their assistance in an emergency.  A cell phone on vibrate seems appropriate for those types of situations.  However, if you cannot go 60 minutes without seeing it is your turn in Words with Friends, or posting on Instagram or Foursquare, you need to skip the concert and go to Starbucks to watch Youtube instead.

Read Happy in the Hall of all Halls (Philadelphia Inquirer)