New York Philharmonic cell phone offender speaks out

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: Music Director of New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert conducts the New York Philharmonic Orchestra during the Opening Night Gala of New York Philharmonic sponsored by Breguet at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on September 21, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The Swatch Group) Neilson Barnard

Alan Gilbert conducts the New York Philharmonic Orchestra during the orchestra's opening night gala on Sept. 21, 2011, in New York.
Getty

(CBS) The iPhone's "Marimba" ringtone reached a new level of infamy earlier this week, when a patron's ringing cell phone interrupted the New York Philharmonic during a performance at Lincoln Center on Tuesday night.

Conductor Alan Gilbert halted the orchestra until the ringing was silenced, and the show resumed to cheers from the audience. Now, the owner of that iPhone - who, not surprisingly, asked to remain anonymous - is telling his side of the story.

Read more: "Marimba" ringtone halts N.Y. Philharmonic

The man, who described himself as a business executive between 60 and 70 who runs two companies, told the New York Times he had not slept in two days.

"You can imagine how devastating it is to know you had a hand in that," he said. "It's horrible, horrible."

He told the paper he had just switched from a Blackberry to an iPhone the day before the incident. He turned the phone to silent before the performance, but was not aware that an alarm on the device had accidently been set and would still ring.

The day after the incident, an official from the Philharmonic called the man (a 20-year subscriber identified as Patron X), the Times reports, and he asked to speak with Gilbert. The two spoke on the phone, the man said, and conductor accepted his apology.

As for Gilbert, he told WCBS in New York on Thursday that the ringing during Mahler's Symphony No. 9 couldn't have been ignored.

"Something had to be done, so we had to stop the music," the conductor 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.

He added, "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."

  • Jessica Derschowitz

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