Somebody at Orchestra Hall had something that he wanted to remember to do at 7:55 Sunday night. Too bad it wasn’t to turn off his alarm during the soprano solo in “He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd.” The alarm was an insistent one, starting with beep-beep, beep-beep, and escalating to beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep.
Ring tones and personal alarms are such a part of concerts and plays that they probably fall into the category of things we’ll just have to accept, but it’s a pity. The Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Chorale turned in a pristine performance of Handel’s “Messiah” this weekend, assuming that one is OK with some pretty big excisions from the score. (Oh death, where is thy sting? Somewhere on the cutting room floor, apparently.) The tone was clean, the text was clear, the interpretation seemed fresh and each note felt right. Except, of course, for the notes from the electronic devices in the concertgoers’ purses and pockets.
So here’s a question for this season of “A Christmas Carol,” “Messiah” and other holiday performances: If today’s phones are smart, are they smart enough to silence themselves? They come equipped with GPS devices, calendars and apps of every conceivable description. Could they see from the location (concert hall), or from the date and the hour (when a concert is on the calendar), that it’s time to pipe down?
Come on, technology. Save us from ourselves.