“Could the idea of the concert hall as a web-free zone, a chance to disconnect, catch on?” asks Anthony Tommasini in Monday’s (9/13) New York Times. “I think so. Though it’s a revolutionary means of finding information, the web consumes and distracts us.… Increasingly at concerts and operas, even older audience members check emails and send texts right until the house darkens or the conductor appears. Most then put their devices away—though not everyone, I’ve found to my amazement.… As many cultural observers have noted, one enviable factor enables museums to entice people more easily these days than classical music institutions can: At an art exhibition you pace yourself; you can look at a painting for 10 seconds or 10 minutes.… The structure of a painting hits you at once; the structure of a symphony unfolds over time: You must give yourself over to it.… I maintain, though, that opportunity awaits to promote classical music as a haven for device-free absorption in live musical performances. The message should be: Here is a chance to turn off your mobile phones, detach from the Internet and let your texts accumulate.… Now, that’s a selling point.”

Posted September 15, 2015

Pictured: An audience member snaps a photo with an iPad after a performance at Carnegie Hall. Photo by Karsten Moran / New York Times