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Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Cell Phone Vanquisher!

By Michael Vincent on May 15, 2023

Oops, it happened again.

The Philadelphia Orchestra was disrupted for the second time in a week by a ringing cell phone during a concert.

The original sin

The first disturbance happened during last Saturday’s performance at Philadelphia’s Verizon Hall with Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducting Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9. The phone started ringing during a quiet passage prompting Nézet-Séguin to stop and begin the moment again. The phone then started to ring out again, causing a frustrated Nézet-Séguin to restart the movement a second time.

“Can we just spend one hour of our lives without the damn phones, please?” Nézet-Séguin quipped.

It was the sentiment heard around the world. Then came the Twitter memes.

The Philadelphia Orchestra took up the challenge.

A second cellphone disturbance… 
…happened again this past Thursday night, as the Philadelphia orchestra eased into the quiet opening of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique when an obnoxious cell phone offender ruined the moment yet again. Nézet-Séguin, again, stopped the music and reminded the audience to turn off their phones.

Why does this keep happening? This incident highlights the ongoing issue of cell phone disruptions during live performances around the world.
A recent study revealed that 73% of music enthusiasts are in favour of prohibiting mobile phones at concerts. However, when we inquired about their sharing habits, the responses painted a different picture. According to our Australian Music Fans Report, 45% of all fans admitted to sharing images, videos, or updates from the event on social media while in attendance, with that figure soaring to 79% for Gen Z.

This presents a conundrum: concert-goers want to share their experiences in real time, but they also don’t want to be interrupted by phones. This dilemma leaves event organizers and venues in a tough spot.

At what point do devices cease being a nuisance and begin affecting the success of an event? 

One solution is for concert presenters to take matters into their own hands and turn the concert hall into a giant Faraday cage

A pub owner in the U.K was so frustrated with inti-social punters on cell phones, he transformed his pub into a giant Faraday cage by covering the walls with tin foil.

Did it work? You bet it did. A Faraday cage prevents electromagnetic signals from reaching objects within it. It was originally developed to shield sensitive equipment from radio interference. In recent times, Faraday cages have also been incorporated into wallets to safeguard individuals from the potential theft of RF data when using contactless payment features on credit and debit cards.

Michael Vincent
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