Well, perhaps not rioting, but there was some pretty spirited heckling during JHNO’s performance at last night’s Longer Burning concert at The Royce Gallery presented by Pamela Z. Details are sketchy, but apparently in the middle of a rather loudly amplified piece, two audience members started complaining about the music even more loudly. One started applauding ironically in an effort to get him to stop playing, the other was less subtle and just yelled out “stop”. One audience member in attendance claims that the hecklers went as far to shout “This is a DESECRATION! I am a REAL violist and I can tell you THIS IS NOT MUSIC!”
Apparently this very vocal and persistent minority got under JHNO’s skin and he abruptly stopped playing, threw his viola onto the stage, causing considerable damage, and stormed off. After the outburst, an angry group of audience members (including original Kronos Quartet member Joan Jeanrenaud) amassed around the hecklers, arguing about proper decorum. Apparently one of the hecklers is a well known performer and educator, but no one has named names yet. (update: George Mattingly has identified the heckler as none other than Bernard Zaslav, former violist of the relatively forward thinking Fine Arts Quartet!)
From the accounts I’ve heard, it was a shocking and disturbing occurrence for everyone there. We mythologize stories of extreme audience reaction to the new, (the famous ‘riots’ after Sacre, the woman screaming ‘I Confess!” during Reich’s Four Organs) but with the general sanitization of the concert experience, actual displays of emotion are exceedingly rare (outside the opera house at least).
(ed. Please see the comments for responses from the heckler, hecklee, and concert presenter.)