Opinion: Time to get tough on cellphone interruptions in Cleveland

Posted on: June 19, 2013

“The Severance Hall crowd is getting louder, and the Cleveland Orchestra can’t remain silent,” writes Zachary Lewis in Sunday’s (6/16) Plain Dealer (Cleveland). “After a spate of cringe-worthy cellphone incidents, the time has come for the orchestra to get proactive in the battle against extraneous electronic noise.” At a performance of Haydn’s “The Seasons” in April, “so disruptive was the intrusion, it actually moved the conductor to speak. The audience, meanwhile, greeted [Music Director Franz Welser-Möst’s] request for silence with applause.” At a second incident the same month, “The ringing commanded attention for a good 30 seconds.… I take rigorous care to ensure that my ringer is off before I cross the threshold of Severance Hall. Problem is, most people don’t. And they don’t because the orchestra doesn’t insist they do. … Happily, the orchestra vows to respond, and a few possibilities are already in the running. One, [Executive Director Gary] Hanson said, would have ushers strolling the aisles holding signs. Another entails verbal reminders from ushers at the hall doors.… I prefer his last idea. It’s funny, unique and musical at once. Shortly before the concert, a musician stands on the stage and plays a ringtone on his instrument. ‘You could play a different one every time,’ Hanson said. ‘I think people would love it.’ ”

Posted June 19, 2013