27. August 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: Read Online

The man seated directly behind me was connected to a portable medical device, presumably an oxygen cart to aid his breathing, that emitted a steady ticking. Hard to describe, it was really more a faint, dull metallic clank in a relentless rhythm that seemed somehow resistant to all the many other rhythms emanating from the stage.

I have no idea how many people heard it: 4 or 5 immediately around, 15 or 20 in the vicinity? And I have no idea how I would have reacted if not for a worrying experience of my own last year. As it was, I found it impossible to ignore.

In February 2010 I had heart surgery to replace a congenitally faulty aortic valve with a mechanical model. Mechanical valves tick, I had been told, and since much of my professional life involves sitting in concert halls as unobtrusively as possible, this was a troubling prospect. I buttonholed the surgeon with my concerns on the morning of the operation, and he assured me — whether taking me seriously or, as I suspect, humoring me — that he would install the quietest valve he could find.

Be that as it may, in my drug-enlivened imaginings of the next few days, I heard a thudding that suggested I had swallowed a bass drum. Soon enough it became apparent that all I had swallowed was a metronome, and a reasonably quiet one at that. Today even I can hear the ticking only in a small, reverberant space or in the dead of night. No one has yet tried to shush me in a concert hall. But what if. …”

I read it here.

I’ve thought about things like this for a while now. We have a woman who brings a service dog to opera performances, as I’ve mentioned before. Fine. But what if someone next to her is highly allergic? She loves to bring the dog down front to show the orchestra. What if someone in the orchestra is highly allergic? She’s never asked us. She needs a service dog. We need to breathe and not sneeze! I was at a Merola performance earlier this month and there was a beep that occasionally went off. It wasn’t a phone. The only thing my companion and I could come up with was that perhaps it was some sort of heart monitor or something else health related. It was quite distracting, but neither of us dared to turn around and try to figure it out. Last year, when I was playing in Merola, someone’s hearing aid screeched through an entire show. While at a symphony concert a while back someone’s oxygen tank was making itself known by a horrible wheezing noise. I’ve heard other things as well, that implied someone had a problem (Tourette’s disorder, maybe?) that kept him or her from remaining quiet.

I want everyone to be able to attend performances. I really do. But what can be done to make the event successful and not miserable for all attendees, I wonder? I really don’t have an answer.

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