Composer and teacher Marcus Maroney of Sounds Like New writes a lovely review of a Spring, Texas recital by violinist Joshua Bell and by pianist Jeremy Denk of Think Denk (scroll down a bit). Mr. Maroney closes his review with these comments on the audience for this recital:
The big drawback ... was the audience. Between the two movements of the concert's opener, a group with front-row seats moseyed in late. Bell and Denk began the second movement, after which a female member of this group preceded to stand up, get an usher, and shuffle the denizens of the front row, talking audibly, while the music was proceeding. Now, this was a concert in a church auditorium, where the audience is not [hidden in the] dark. Surely Bell and Denk could see what was going on. The bad behavior didn't stop there: unwrapping, chewing, tapping, program book dropping, audible conversations, and clapping at inappropriate times made me embarrassed that this was the suburban Texas concert-going scene. Thank god for that fortissimo A major piano chord that kicks off the Kreutzer's finale - I saw hands coming together after the riveting performance of the variations and that gorgeous major triadic slap was pure magic.
That sort of outrageous, rock-show-audience behavior — an egregious breach of concert-hall audience etiquette — is one of the reasons I no longer attend live concerts (there are more practical reasons for my current non-attendance, but they're inapposite to the matter at hand). As Mr. Maroney hints at (or rather, I suspect it's what he was hinting at by his noting that surely Mr. Bell and Mr. Denk could see what was going on), there's but one effective way to put a stop to that sort of audience behavior when it occurs: by the performers halting the music in mid-phrase, humiliating the offenders by simply staring at them quietly until they get the message and cease whatever inappropriate behavior they were engaging in, and then starting the music over again right from the top; either of the piece or the movement, as the case may be.
The late conductor Leopold Stokowski was a master of this tactic, and during his tenure as music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and for decades after under his assistant and successor, Eugene Ormandy, you can bet the audiences at Philadelphia's Academy Of Music (the orchestra's home venue during that era) were among the best behaved, most attentive, and most responsive in the world.