I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s some form of physical law governing the likelihood of a mobile phone firing off in the middle of a concert, and it’s essentially that the likelihood of this happening is inversely proportional to the volume of the music being played, thus:
I struck this a while ago during one of the relatively few quiet moments in Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and again last Saturday. The program consisted of Sculthorpe’s Sun Music III (during while the fire alarms could have sounded, and we’d simply have assumed that they were scripted), followed by Sibelius’ King Christian II Suite, a robust piece with few quiet spots, one of which was neatly filled with the trilling of a mobile phone. The fact that the concert was being broadcast live on the ABC only added to the sense of inevitability. As Arvo Volmer was on the podium on both occasions it seems fair the append his name to this momentous scientific breakthrough.
Mercifully the phones remained silent (as did the coughers and sneezers) during the star turn of the night, Beethoven’s Emperor concerto with Nikolai Demidenko as soloist. It was a great performance, the ensuing applause bringing forth not one but two encores. He didn’t announce what the encores were (at a guess I’d say they were both Chopin, with a nocturne followed by a mazurka) – the obvious solution was to hold up a Shazam enabled mobile phone, but given the earlier excitement this didn’t seem like such a great idea.