The mom speaks out: though she felt “humiliated” by MTT’s action, she holds no grudge against New World Symphony

By Lawrence A. Johnson

The Miami Beach mom has come forward.

Michael Tilson Thomas created a furor when he stopped a New World Symphony performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 on October 17 to ask a woman and her nine-year-old daughter to move out of his view, a story broken by South Florida Classical Review last week.

The mother of two agreed to an interview about the incident as long as she could remain anonymous to protect her daughter.

She confirmed Tilson Thomas’s contention that he did not ask her to leave the hall but to move to another seat out of his line of sight.

“He actually said, ‘You’re disturbing me. Can you move to the side?’  But we weren’t doing anything.”

“He was polite, as polite can be in the middle of a movement. I found it odd and humiliating to call attention to me in front of the whole show, but this was not my doing. At first I didn’t even realize he was speaking to us, so I think he said it twice.”

She maintains that her daughter was not jumping about and neither of them were doing anything that warranted being asked to move. “My child was not fidgeting,” she said. “No iPad. No phone out.”

She said that she was not angry at being asked to move and would have done so, except that the incident was so devastating to her daughter.

“My child was about to burst into uncontrollable crying, [so] I had no choice but to leave. To be honest, if she wasn’t about to burst into tears, I would have moved and that would have been it. But that wasn’t the case. So we had to leave.”

She remains baffled as to why Tilson Thomas found their presence so disturbing, unless it was because they were the only ones sitting in his line of vision behind the stage.

“There was no one to the left or the right of us.  Our whole row and the row behind us were empty except for us. So it’s as if we were highlighted. Perhaps he doesn’t like to see anyone there and that’s why the rows were empty. But that’s where our tickets were.”

While New World officials met with her last Monday, she said she has not heard from Tilson Thomas personally or received an apology from him.

Still she said she holds no grudge against the conductor or the New World Symphony and will return for future concerts.

“I am not angry and I am in fact going back. I love NWS. I love the acoustics.  I loved the Wagner piece before Bronfman too.

“We get a lot of joy from NWS, their concerts, and their children’s series. And plus on the exterior it’s a beautiful addition to our city too. It’s great all around.”

She said her daughter has already forgotten about the incident. “It happened ‘so long ago’ it’s not an issue. Children don’t have a great sense of time.”

When they come back for an NWS concert there will be a difference though.

“I told my child we don’t have to sit [behind the stage] ever again.  We will stay where we normally sit and see the orchestra from the regular side.”

Posted in News

5 Responses to “The mom speaks out: though she felt “humiliated” by MTT’s action, she holds no grudge against New World Symphony”

  1. Posted Oct 27, 2014 at 7:59 pm by Ignacio

    I am sorry to see this incident take away the limelight from what was a wonderful concert, both the Wagner conducted by Christian Reif and the Brahms 2 with Messrs. Bronfman and Tilson Thomas. I propose we focus on the wonderful music making by the New World Symphony fellows and let the parties in this distraction amicably come to terms.

    But since it surfaced again let me observe that, as I previously said, though I was in the front row, I could not understand what MTT said. Ironically the one strange aspect of this whole incident, which may be corroborated by others in the hall who saw it, is that after MTT was finished speaking, the lady, probably irate, got up from her seat and walked out without looking back. The girl after a few seconds got up from her seat on her own and followed her mother out. It looked weird to see the lady not take the daughter’s hand or whatever and both walk out together, but mother walked out without looking back or beckoning the daughter to follow, and then the girl walk out on her own. To me it looked weird.


  2. Posted Oct 27, 2014 at 9:12 pm by Lucie Spieler

    This mother sounds like a real grown-up. How refreshing!

  3. Posted Oct 28, 2014 at 12:33 am by LISA VAZZANA

    I think MTT acted completely inappropriately. If he had a phobia about people sitting in the front row, he should have made it clear to the box office and should not have sold tickets in the front row.

    It’s obvious he made no effort to include this in his list of requests as conductor. He owes this woman and her daughter an apology and a free season pass to any and all future concerts.

    At what point do we continue to be the self absorbed ‘artiste’ MTT believes he is, grow up and behave like a gracious adult?

  4. Posted Oct 28, 2014 at 10:21 am by Roberta Prada

    A heightened state of awareness can sometimes go along with performing. This mother was described as stroking her child’s hair. Stroking can be a rhythmic activity which may have distracted MTT enough for him to say something about it.

  5. Posted Oct 28, 2014 at 12:42 pm by Melissa Cirone

    Mom seems cool. MTT has a reputation for being prickly. Such is life. But then our artists and arts leaders shouldn’t complain how sad it is that children are growing up without an arts education. Sitting in a concert hall is arts education. MTM may like “knowing” that it happens, he just doesn’t want to “see” it.

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Mon Oct 27, 2014
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