Cellphone Concertos

This week I came across a clip of pianist Christian Zacharias discussing cellphone interruptions during his performances. 

I’ve written before about finding little moments during the week to focus on one thing and one thing only. Zacharias’s take on that “rare moment when our minds can go and focus on one thing” (and what it’s like to be at the center of such a moment when a cellphone rings) is a good one.  

Surprisingly, by the end of his talk, Zacharias takes a near-optimistic spin on the ringtone interruption, saying that it can remind the audience that they’re part of a collective silence and focus, that there is “something happening.” 

Sure enough, at the end of the clip, we see such a moment. Zacharias waits at the piano in silence after the ringtone has been snuffed out, waits for a few beats, then plunges back into the piece with spirit anew. Even just watching the clip, you can tell there’s something special taking place in the concert hall. (The look on the face of the concertmaster at 2:29 is another giveaway.)

There’s a certain irony here in that the ringtone has, in a strange, roundabout sort of way, added to the performance. The phone rang out, the orchestra responded. A cellphone concerto.*

*This isn’t to say let’s all go to concerts with our ringers on blast. On the contrary, let’s not do that. Still, I thought Zacharias’s talk an interesting one, and the clip is worth your time.