How to Handle a Ringtone Interruption

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 23 2012 5:04 PM

Now This Is How You Respond to a Cell Phone Interruption

ViolistRingtone
Still of viola soloist Lukas Kmit.

Last week, the Slate Culture Gabfest discussed the hoopla that erupted after a ringtone intruded on a recent New York Philharmonic performance. That incident provoked the rediscovery of the video below, showing a Slovakian violist’s quick-witted response to a rude ringtone interruption of his own. (The video was uploaded to YouTube last July.)

At the orchestral performance in New York, the iPhone marimba ring came from the front row, and was said to have gone off “during one of music’s most sublime moments,” according to the New York Times. (The incident, helpfully, has been recreated on YouTube.)

While that incident resulted in jeers, angry words from conductor Alan Gilbert, and a screeching halt to the performance, this performer responds a little more sweetly. Note that, as All Things D points out, the Nokia ringtone itself is based on Francisco Tárrega’s Gran Vals; that might help explain how the violist is able to react so quickly. While unwanted ringtones often prompt angry responses, it’s too bad that orchestras are too large to be so quick on their feet—or that the NY Phil wasn’t performing with a quick-witted marimbist.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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