Classical music fans are terribly sophisticated and demanding. They don't like it, for example, when their precious sonic cocoon is pierced by disabled people's medical devices, or by coughing sickies. Now they've nearly torn a man to pieces over his ringing iPhone.
Blogger Max Kinchen, who was present during the incident, described how the mannered crowd near-rioted after an audience member's iPhone belted out the marimba ringtone for 5 minutes and the conductor stopped the show:
"Get out!" came an angry call from one of the balconies. Call is a nice way of putting it, this shout was almost more of a growl than coherent words.
"Shut it off!" Came another voice.
The aggression and anger in the voices of these people was palpable. Soon, a whole chorus of "Turn off the phone!" and "Throw them out!" was rising from around me in the auditorium.
I can't describe the tension in that room and possibly do it justice, The way the people were shouting made it seem like they were calling for the phone's owner's head on a platter. They wanted blood! ...
The calls got louder, there was a sense of movement in the sector the phone was coming from. What were those people preparing to do?
The iPhone guy should have been escorted out by an usher after minute one of letting his phone ring, even if (as Kinchen suggests, and as seems likely) he'd fallen asleep and unintentionally left his ringer on. But also mobs of hundreds of people shouldn't use an errant electronic device as an excuse to unleash their "almost animal aggression," as Kinchen put it. "Did the crime of the phone going off really match the response it got? ... Whoever had owned the phone had made an honest mistake, one that just about anyone else in the audience could possibly have made."
Then again, classical music concertgoers need to vent their endlessly thwarted sense of entitlement somehow. Prevent them from hollering at iPhone pariahs and God knows what they're capable of.