…and a symphony broke out? Who starts a fight at the Boston Pops? From the Globe:
One of the two concertgoers at the center of what has become known as “The Brawl at Symphony Hall” said yesterday that he intends to press charges against the man who punched him after being asked several times to stop talking during the Boston Pops’ opening night gala.
“People with a temper like that aren’t really safe in society,” Matthew Ellinger , a 27-year-old graphic designer from Brighton, said yesterday. “If a guy is going to lose his temper at the symphony when somebody asks him to stop talking, that’s just not cool. If I were to let that go, I would be doing nobody any service.”
Ellinger was there thanks to his girlfriend, Allison Roche, 26, a regular at Symphony Hall who took him to see the Pops for the first time. But well before singer-songwriter Ben Folds, the opening night guest, took the stage at Wednesday’s sold-out concert, the couple was in the hallway, Ellinger nursing his bloody lip and providing a statement to the Boston Police.
The fight came during not just any show, but on an evening that features champagne and hor d’oeuvres before the music starts — and which is typically covered by local TV stations. The ruckus, captured on video , quickly ricocheted across the Internet.
“It’s the number one video on CNN,” said Boston Symphony Orchestra managing director Mark Volpe, who could recall only one other fight in Symphony Hall during his decade-long tenure.
Roche said she had been looking forward to the concert, buying tickets the day they went on sale and dressing up for the date. The couple took their seats in the second row of the second balcony.
But instead of enjoying the music, Ellinger said, he found himself distracted by an older couple in the row in front of him.
“He was jibber-jabbering with his wife or girlfriend through the entire first piece and into the second piece, so I tapped him on the shoulder with my program and gave him a little shush gesture,” said Ellinger. “Then, they keep going into the third piece. They’re still talking. So I tap him on the shoulder and say, ‘Hey, it’s the Pops here, don’t talk.’ He turns around and threatens to throw me over the balcony.”
At that point, Ellinger said, he left his seat and informed a BSO usher in the hallway about the threat. When he returned to his seat, Ellinger said, he told the man he had reported him. The man then swung at Ellinger, he said, hitting him in the face. Ellinger said the man grabbed him by his hair before they were separated.
The video, taken by WHDH-TV, ends with the older man, his blue shirt pulled open, being removed from the hall and the disheveled Roche and Ellinger taking their seats. But soon after, Ellinger left the hall again. He said his lip was bleeding and he wanted a paper towel. Roche went with him. Police asked him to provide a statement and BSO staffers told the couple they would have to leave. Their tickets were refunded.
The BSO refused to provide the name of the other man in the fight. Police would say only that he was a 44-year-old male. A police spokeswoman said she could not release names because officers said both men claimed to be victims. The police had no plans to file criminal charges. Ellinger said he will file civil charges.
BSO trustee Cynthia Curme couldn’t see the action. She was sitting underneath the balcony and thought at first that the interruption was planned. Conductor Keith Lockhart had just led the Pops through an excerpt from “Phantom of the Opera.”
After a series of screams, Lockhart, noticing the disturbance, stopped the orchestra mid-song.
“The shrieks sort of sounded like some of those operatic shrieks,” said Curme. “What I truthfully thought, as Keith turned around, was that it was going to be some kind of preplanned stunt and somebody was going to come out on a wire because I knew Keith did that somewhere in Cleveland.”
Improper Bostonian columnist Jonathan Soroff , sitting on the Symphony Hall floor, had a perfect view.
“I never thought I’d see a brawl at Symphony Hall,” he said. “Fenway, yes.”
Soroff said he hoped the BSO didn’t somehow blame the incident on the recent Pops effort to bring more rock musicians into Symphony Hall.
“It could have happened at an all-Brahms program,” he said. “People are just not always civilized.”
The BSO said it had no plans to change its programming or procedures and viewed the incident as isolated. And Roche said she looked forward to going back to hear the Pops.
“I’m not going to think that all of a sudden my life is threatened anytime I go to the symphony,” she said.
Odd. Although why the Boston PD isn’t filing charges escapes me. It’s not like they don’t have a room full of witnesses…