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Yannick Nézet-Séguin Condemns Cell Phone Use in Concerts

"Can we live without the phone for just one damn hour?" the Canadian conductor asked during a Philadelphia Orchestra concert


Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin has expressed his frustration with cell phones interrupting orchestral concerts, after ringtones have ruined delicate musical moments twice in as many weeks.

Nézet-Séguin and the orchestra were about one minute into the devotional third movement of Bruckner's Symphony No. 9, when a cell phone rang — breaking the orchestra's focus and the audience's absorption. Nézet-Séguin then began the movement again, only for the same thing to happen at about the same part of the music.

Frustrated, he then turned to address the audience, asking "Can we live without the phone for just one damn hour?"

At the playful prompting of VAN Magazine on Twitter, the Philadelphia Orchestra has since released a range of merchandise, including phone cases and tote bags, with Nézet-Séguin's words on them.

A similar admonishment followed during the opening of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique at a subsequent concert, though Nézet-Séguin struck a more humorous tone in his comments to the audience.

Nézet-Séguin acknowledged that there was a fine balance to be struck in terms of allowing patrons to enjoy the music uninterrupted, without alienating younger listeners who may be at a classical music concert for the first time.

"[I] stopped the concert because it was cell phone [ring] number four," Nézet-Séguin told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Philosophically, I think what’s happening is, we do have a new audience coming in and we appreciate that they are coming in," he added. "And we’re trying to welcome them to understand the power of being together in a moment of silence and in a moment of complete focus on the music."

"Hopefully we can keep welcoming our new audiences while having them embrace the rituals of the concert."

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