Mahler Nine disruption

Mahler's valedictory Ninth Symphony fades away with dying heartbeats, poignantly making its farewell to a life well led. Its concluding minutes hold its audience in breathless awe.
But its performance last Thursday from the CBSO under Ilan Volkov was disrupted by intrusive noises from the audience. These were no occasional coughs, sweet-unwrappings (perhaps to find remedies for those coughs), or, heaven help us, whisperings, but the enthusiastic response of a severely-disabled listener sitting in the terrace reserved for wheelchair-users.
His contribution grew as the performance progressed, and he was obviously immersed in the unfolding of this wonderful music. But his audible responses interrupted the concentration of over 1000 paying audience-members, many of whom had travelled from far and wide and possibly spent money in Birmingham eateries before hoping to enjoy this much-anticipated concert.
The concert was also being recorded by BBC Radio 3 for subsequent broadcast. Their engineers' skills will surely be able to eliminate these vocal intrusions, but there can never be compensation for the disappointment of listeners actually present.
I sympathise totally on both sides of the fence. Had I been reviewing, I would certainly have mentioned this unintentional disruption as part of the evening's concert experience, of which audience behaviour is always a part. But I also have a dear cousin with Down's Syndrome, and I know he would have had no inhibitions in expressing his reactions to the music.
In Symphony Hall there is an easy answer, which should have been firmly made clear from the outset. There is a Radio Room at the back of the stalls, totally sound-proofed from within, but with a clear view and soundscape of what is happening onstage. I have taken myself in there a few times over the past 27 years when I didn't wish to bring a troublesome cough into the auditorium, and have successfully reviewed from there.
Why on earth wasn't this refuge made available to this listener with special needs? Where was the house manager? I fear this whole sorry affair has been mishandled. The unfortunate, enthusiastic listener has almost been made the villain of the piece, which should be far from the truth: the carer, the Symphony Hall front-of-house staff, and anyone from the CBSO who was around, those are the ones who could have ameliorated the situation.
Christopher Morley

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