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New World Symphony mum on MTT’s eviction of audience member during concert

Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 11:04 am

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Michael Tilson Thomas

Michael Tilson Thomas

Last week’s New World Symphony performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 enjoyed some extra-musical drama when Michael Tilson Thomas told a woman sitting near the stage with a child in her lap that she was distracting him and asked her to leave.

The incident occurred between the second and third movements of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 with piano soloist Yefim Bronfman last Friday night at New World Center.

The child was apparently sleeping noiselessly on the woman’s lap, said an audience member sitting nearby, while the woman was petting his head. MTT told the woman that she was making him lose his concentration and reportedly asked her to leave, which the woman did, and the performance continued.

The New World Symphony has declined to release a statement or comment on the incident since Monday, as has the conductor through the NWS public relations office.

Tilson Thomas—artistic director of the New World Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony, which he will conduct at the Arsht Center next month—has a colorful history of temperamental podium behavior.

Last November he tossed two handfuls of cough lozenges into the front rows of the audience during a Chicago Symphony Orchestra performance he was conducting of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 after noisy bronchial outbursts by patrons during the first movement.

Prior incidents at New World Symphony concerts in their previous Lincoln Theater home include throwing a malfunctioning microphone on the floor, and stalking offstage in the middle of a performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, leaving NWS fellows and the audience sitting for several minutes before he returned.

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