Turn Off Your Damn Cell Phones, Yannick Nézet-Séguin Begs of You

Plus, inside the most expensive race for mayor in Philly's history.

philadelphia orchestra conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who begs you to turn off your cell phones during his performances

Philadelphia Orchestra conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who begs you to turn off your cell phones during his performances (Getty Images)

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Turn Off Your Damn Cell Phones, Begs Philadelphia Orchestra Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin

It’s happened again.

On Saturday night inside the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall, ringing cell phones interrupted the Philadelphia Orchestra’s performance — and not just once, according to an account from Inquirer arts reporter Peter Dobrin. The first time around, Nézet-Séguin paused the song, waited for the rings to pass, and then restarted. But the second time, Nézet-Séguin had had enough. Per Dobrin, the conductor stopped the song, turned to the audience, and asked, quite rhetorically, “Can we live without the phone for just one damn hour?”

I’ve witnessed this lack of cell-phone etiquette one too many times at Philadelphia Orchestra performances. And, let’s be real, once is one too many.

The most egregious example I’ve personally witnessed came in October 2021. This wasn’t just any Philadelphia Orchestra concert. This was the first in-person performance after COVID shut down concerts the world over. And the orchestra’s guest of honor that night was none other than Yo-Yo Ma. Could we get through the performance without a cell-phone ring piercing the air? No, no, we could not. And in this case, cell phones interrupted the music four times.

I later asked Nézet-Séguin about this cell-phone rudeness in this 2022 interview with the maestro. This is what he had to say:

I have been in performances when this happens, and I just stop the orchestra and wait for the ringing to end. And then we’ll back up a few minutes and start again. Once, in Montreal, I stopped, and we went all the way back to the beginning of the symphony. Mostly, I feel like it’s my responsibility to almost pretend that I didn’t hear it, to help the musicians stay focused. We are in the world of music, for which, yes, science and concentration are really, really important. But we are also doing something with an audience, which means human beings, and things can happen. And I also have to keep in mind that when Beethoven and Mozart were playing their pieces, they were not doing so in absolute silence.

Here’s what I don’t get. A cell phone rings during a song. Everybody is looking around, wondering who the barbaric offender is. You would think this infraction would cause all the attendees to double-check their own phones. The thought of this happening a second or third or fourth time seems unthinkable. And yet …

On Deadline

If you’re planning to vote using a mail-in or absentee ballot in next Tuesday’s primary, you need to know that the deadline to apply for said ballot is tomorrow at 5 p.m. You can fill out this form online. Or, if you want to get the whole thing done in one fell swoop, you can show up at your county’s voting office, apply for the ballot, get it, fill it out, and hand it in. In Philadelphia, go to Room 140 at City Hall.

Speaking of Deadlines …

A very important PSA: Mother’s Day is on Sunday. Which means you probably should have already made reservations at Mom’s favorite restaurant. Not sure where to go? Fortunately, we’ve got this handy guide to the best Mother’s Day brunches in Philly. Some not-so-obvious options on there. Good luck!

Jeff Brown No Longer Seems to Have a Google Problem

For the entirety of the month of April and at least as recently as Friday, ShopRite mogul Jeff Brown had himself a bit of a Google problem. If you searched his name, the top result was a link to an anti-Jeff Brown website. Allan Domb was the candidate to thank for that. Domb told me he set up the site, which calls Brown unethical, dishonest and unqualified to be mayor. And then Domb’s campaign made a Google AdWords buy to make the link as prominent as possible. And it worked. But as of Monday morning, while the site is still active, it no longer shows up on the first page of Google. Well, Jeff, after weeks of bad news, culminating in Helen Gym’s Friday poll, you finally get some good news.

By the Numbers

42: Percentage of Philadelphians who drank bottled water instead of tap water before the recent chemical spill. We’re not sure yet how many made the switch after.

$31.4 million: Approximate amount of fund-raising in the race for mayor. That makes this the most expensive mayor’s race in Philadelphia history.

$50,000: Amount Inquirer board chair Josh Kopelman donated to the super PAC that’s running anti-Helen Gym ads. (He addressed his backing of the super PAC in a recent series of tweets.) But that’s nothing compared to the $750,000 Main Line entrepreneur Jeffrey Yass ponied up. It’s okay. Yass can afford it. He’s the richest person in all of Pennsylvania.

30,000: Mail-in ballots already cast by Philadelphians.

And from the OMG Sports Desk …

To see what happened in Game 4 of the Sixers-Celts series, go here.

As for the Phils, Zack Wheeler started the first game in their series against the Red Sox on Friday night, and the first batter up landed on second after a Schwarber error. That’s when a fan fell into the Sox bullpen and had to be carted away.

After a 10-minute delay, the game continued, and Wheeler gave up a run on a single. The fan seemed to be alive, at least. The Phils went down one-two-three in the first, but Bryce got a huge standing O when he came to bat at home for the first time this year.

The Sox got two more in the third; Wheeler also whacked Rafael Devers with a pitch, so Chris Sale started the fourth by plunking Edmundo Sosa — then got three straight K’s.

But the Phils started off the bottom of the fourth with a Harper single, a Castellanos double and a Realmuto triple — cool! Bohm tied it at three with another single. There were still no outs, but somehow, Sale got out of the jam. Boston went up 5-3 in the sixth, and the parade of relievers then continued: Brogdon, Soto, Vasquez. And that’s where it stayed at the bitter end. Will we ever win again?

Harper Comes Alive

Bailey Falter started Saturday’s game with a bangin’ nine straight outs. Corey Kluber got it started for the Red Sox, and Trea Turner wasted a double stranded on second. In the Phils’ half, Stott got popped by a pitch, took second on wild pitch, and scored when Bohm singled. Hey, we was winning! But in the fourth, a mess: Falter gave up a single, a double and a walk to load the bases with no outs, and Rafael Devers doubled, bringing two men home. Bailey got two outs, but then … three more singles in a row: 5-1. In came reliever Luis Ortiz for the merciful strikeout. Could the Phils climb out of the hole this time?

Bohm tried; he got a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth, and Marsh followed with a single. Edmundo Sosa worked an eight-pitch at bat before he hit a long ball that roused the crowd to a frenzy, but it dropped foul. And another foul! He then hit a bloop single that scored Bohm. And Schwarber … struck out.

But! In the fifth, lookee here!

Did you know he’s a Mormon? I didn’t. Now I do. Arroyo doubled off reliever Connor Brogdon in the sixth; a fine catch by Schwarber on a long fly saved yet another run. Reese McGuire drew a walk, and Rob Refsnyder doubled down the left-field line to bring two more home: 7-3. Trea Turner eventually homered — his second of the week — but that’s where it stayed: 7-4. Boston’s eighth straight win, Phils’ sixth loss in a row.

What a Relief!

Taijuan Walker took the mound on Sunday afternoon, facing Tanner Houck. There was a whole lot of nothin’ through three innings, till in the bottom of the fourth, Stott and Turner singled and Harper walked to load the bases. Stott then scored on a Castellanos grounder that forced Turner out at third. That brought up Schwarber, who singled Harper in: 2-0. Triston Casas homered in the top of the fifth; Schwarber would homer in the sixth, again with Harper on base, to make it 4-1. A big bottom of the eighth scored two more for the Phils; Matt Strahm did a nice job in relief to end the game. Final: 6-1. At least we got one, right?

In Doop News

On Saturday night, the Union played the Red Bulls in New York. In the 26th minute, the ref called a PK after a pass from Bedoya to Carranza, who got tripped. An appeal by New York was unsuccessful, after an interminable delay, naturally. Gazdag took the kick and buried it, 1-0 — the Union’s first first goal on the road all season.

In the sixth minute of first-half overage, Quinn Sullivan body-blocked the Red Bull goalie and earned himself a yellow card just before the whistle for the half.

In the second half, some great defense by Andre Blake et al. kept out a corner in the 53rd minute. Even later in the game, Blake came out of the box to make a great stop, got walloped, and was rewarded with a yellow on the walloper, former Union player Corey Burke. Aiyee, six minutes of overage again! But the defense held, for a 1-0 win. Doop!

All Philly Today Sports Desk coverage is provided by Sandy Hingston.