The Classic iPhone Ringtone “Marimba” Interrupts New York Philharmonic [Update]


Update 1: Further information has emerged from this story. The phone that rang was actually an alarm going off–which happens even when the iPhone is in silent mode. More info here at the NYT:

“You can imagine how devastating it is to know you had a hand in that,” said the man, who described himself as a business executive between 60 and 70 who runs two companies. “It’s horrible, horrible.” The man said he had not slept in two days.

We are repeatedly told to turn off our cellphones at the movies, plays, and other events that require the attention of the audience. Now, it appears the New York Philarmonic was interrupted by a cellphone last night by–an iPhone. This was even after the audience was clearly told to turn off their cellphones before the performance began, as noted by concert goer Max:

[the] calming voice of Alec Baldwin came over the speakers and reminded us all to please turn our cell phones off “out of respect for the musicians and your fellow audience members.”

Details noted by another audience member, Michael, describe the orchestra was in the middle of a piece only to be stopped by the conductor, Alan Gilbert. What made him so annoyed? The unanswered ringing of an iPhone–the Marimba ringtone, belonging to someone sitting in the front row centre, stage right. The phone was ringing repeatedly, without being answered or being sent to voicemail.

The details, as noted by Michael:

Of all places, the offender was sitting in the very front row, center section, on the aisle (stage right). In other words, right in front of the concertmaster.

Finally, Gilbert dropped his hands and stopped the orchestra, turned to the offender, and looked at him. To everyone’s disbelief, the sound just kept on going, and going. Someone shouted, “Thousand dollar fine.”

Gilbert said something like, “Are you finished?” The guy didn’t move a muscle. Gilbert: “Fine. We’ll wait.” And he turned to the podium and lay down his baton.

As the marimba kept on clanging, someone shouted, “Kick him out!” Another echoed. Some started to clap. But then others shushed the hall down, preventing pandemonium from erupting.

Finally, it stopped. Gilbert: “Did you turn it off?” The guy nodded. Gilbert: “It won’t go off again?” Another nod. Gilbert turned to the audience, and said, “Ordinarily in disturbances like these, it’s better not to stop, since stopping is worse than the disturbance. But this was so egregious, that . . .” (I lost his words here), and the audience burst into boisterous applause.

Unbelievable. You must be absolutely clueless to not know your cellphone is ringing–and that it’s not on silent. The lesson to be learned here? Turn off your damn cellphone, or be subject to an angry mob with pitchforks.

[thousandfold echo via Baltimore Sun]


  • Anonymous

    I wish movie theatres were hardcore like that here, like in the states. 

  • Daniel Lee

    Clueless, or just really, really embarrassed …  I don’t know if I could have done anything if I was stupid enough to leave my phone on.

  • The only solution are  interfering transmitters built into every concert hall, movie theatre and similar facilities. That’s brute force, but it works 😉

  • Raj

    Come on, what’s so hard about using the “buzzer” switch ? Anyone entering a concert hall without switching it should be forced to switch it on and off with “Marimba” being blasted out of a loudspeaker for an hour or more.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t believe that Apple did a so nice smartphone but still only provide irritating ringtones.

  • Marc

    “I can’t believe that Apple did a so nice smartphone but still only provide irritating ringtones.”

    THAT’S what you took away from this post? That apple needs to make less annoying ringtones?

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely. It made me think of hearing that Marimba sound and how annoying it is.
    A lot more while listening to a movie in a theater.

  • Dallas Hinton

    If you set an alarm using the built-in alarm clock, it will sound until you stop it. It doesn’t matter if the switch is set to silent, or the mode is set to airplane, it WILL sound. The only fix it turn the entire phone off and you might not want to do that for various reasons. 

  • Or you could choose the alarm tone “none”, but that sort of defeats the purpose of an alarm……