iPhone Alarm Halts New York Philharmonic Performance

iPhone Alarm Halts New York Philharmonic Performance

We’ve likely all been at a movie or concert when someone’s phone went off, disrupting the experience – but have you ever seen a performance halted by such a disruption? An iPhone alarm actually halted the New York Philharmonic during a critical section of a recent performance.

The New York Times reports:

The unmistakably jarring sound of an iPhone marimba ring interrupted the soft and spiritual final measures of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 at the New York Philharmonic on Tuesday night. The conductor, Alan Gilbert, did something almost unheard-of in a concert hall: He stopped the performance. But the ringing kept on going, prompting increasingly angry shouts in the audience directed at the malefactor.

After words from Mr. Gilbert, and what seemed like weeks, the cellphone owner finally silenced his device. After the audience cheered, the concert resumed. Internet vitriol ensued.

Apparently the owner of the device felt the worst of all about the disruption, however. The un-named disrupter had just gotten his first iPhone, and had put his phone on silent, unaware that he’d set the alarm – or that it could sound with the device on silent:

Patron X said he had no idea he was the culprit. He said his company replaced his BlackBerry with an iPhone the day before the concert. He said he made sure to turn it off before the concert, not realizing that the alarm clock had accidentally been set and would sound even if the phone was in silent mode. “I didn’t even know phones came with alarms,” the man said.

Debates have ensued across Twitter and other venues over the nature of the iPhone’s silent switch, and whether an iPhone should still sound an alarm even when it is set to silent mode, with some suggesting that many would want alarms to disrupt them, such as waking them up in the morning if they forget to take their phones off silent, but others argue that most would expect that silent mode should mean just that: silence, in all scenarios.

The incident happened during one of the most significant moments in the performance, which is especially unfortunate, but it does raise some questions. Who is to blame? Should the unnamed disrupter have turned his iPhone completely off? Should he have expected the alarm to go off?

The disruptor has since apologized, and I’m suspending judgement on this, but what are your thoughts?

  1. Anonymous says:

    A good philosophical debate.  On  the one hand, the silent switch should mean SILENT.  On the other hand, you would want to silence your communications (phone, email, tweets, etc.) over night, but still have the alarm sound in the morning.

    This could all be solved by adding an additional “Alarm” switch to the Silent section of Settings/sounds on iOS.  That section currently allows you to turn of the vibration during silent mode.  You should have the option of silencing alarms in the same section. Problem solved.  

    Until then, I can only see this becoming a continued issue as more and more people switch to iPhone and fewer and fewer of them tend to be savvy enough to know the in’s-and-out’s of their new device….  especially older customers switching from flip phones.

  2. James C says:

    I personally want my alarm to disrupt silent mode. When using it as an alarm, I leave silent on as to prevent emails, phone calls or text messages from disrupting my sleep. I am just careful to know when my alarms are on and what time they are set for.

  3. At a movie? The theater? turn your frakking phone off. no exceptions. Douches.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Ignorance of the law is not an excuse when you commit a crime. Ignorance of the tools you carry is no exception. If you are going to carry a smartphone, you need to at least be able to perform the basics before you tote it into public venues where phone calls, alarms, etc, could be a major disruption. This was the alarm but in truth, it could have just as easily been the ringer which is more often the case and then he’d have claimed to not know who to silence it. I agree with a previous poster.. When it doubt, just shut the damn thing off for two hours. If the world can’t survive without you for that long, you shouldn’t be at a concert.

  5. Acronym says:

    Apologies are accepted. Its human nature to make mistake. Sometime the rule of ignorance of the law is not an excuse cant be exercise or ignorance of tools u carry is no exception is partly eliminate human nature. We do learn from mistakes. That makes us human. Depends on circumstances, as for this case, Furthermore the disruptor just swap to iphone within a day and it does take quite awhile to adapt to the change especially if u’re not apple tech savvy. Too bad for him! Hope he/she learnt his/her lesson 🙂

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