Boston — They are some of the best classical musicians in the country. But at one recent performance by The Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, the most memorable moment didn't come from anyone on stage at Symphony Hall. It came from the audience, right at the very end of Mozart's Masonic Funeral Music.
Someone yelled, "Wow!" and it resonated -- not just in the hall, but throughout the classical music community. It was just such a departure from typical audience protocol, which is why the president of the Handel and Haydn Society was absolutely thrilled.
"I was like, 'That's fantastic,'" said David Snead. "There's a sense of wonder in that 'wow.' You could really hear on the tape he was like, 'This was amazing.'"
David was so smitten by the outburst, as was the audience, that he decided to try to find the voice responsible. "Who was that? Because he really touched my life in a way that I'll never forget," David said.
He decided to write to everyone in the audience. Eventually, that email found its way to concertgoer Stephen Mattin, who was there with his 9-year-old grandson, Ronan.
Ronan is the one who shouted "wow," which surprised Stephen more than anyone.
"He just doesn't do that. You know, usually he's in a world by himself," Stephen said.
Ronan is autistic and considered non-verbal. But music has always been a wormhole into his heart and mind. As a thank you, David arranged for a private cello performance for Ronan. But Ronan's family said all thanks should go to David and the Handel and Haydn musicians who made that moment possible.
They said just hearing Ronan's reaction after being told for years he might never engage -- what more can you say but "thank you," and "wow."
Watch the performance for Ronan: