Fisticuffs a show stopper at Boston Pops

Published May 11, 2007

Something else popped at the Boston Pops' opening night concert. A brawl broke out at Symphony Hall. Before rocker Ben Folds appeared as a special guest Wednesday, two men got into a fight in the balcony as the orchestra performed a medley from the movie Gigi. The fight started after one of them tapped the other on the shoulder with a program to complain about noise, police said in an Associated Press story. TV video showed the two struggling - one with his shirt partly pulled off - as several people stood around them. Conductor Keith Lockhart briefly halted the performance while the men were escorted out.

From bad to worse

Witnesses said they heard a scream from the balcony and the sound of chairs falling, then a second scream as the fight escalated. "The first time there was a scream, Keith looked up that way, but he kept going, " audience member June MacIndoe told Boston's WHDH-TV. "Then about a minute-and-a-half later . . . there was a big scream and you could hear chairs falling over and you could see them up there, fists going." At that point, Lockhart stopped the performance for a few minutes, she said. "He just stood there, you know, quiet." Then the concert resumed.

No arrests made

"It was an unfortunate incident, but thankfully this kind of behavior is truly out of the ordinary at a Boston Pops concert, " the orchestra said in a statement. Police spokesman David Estrada said officers on security detail escorted the men off the property, no charges were filed and no injuries were reported. Police didn't release the men's names because neither was arrested but said one was in his 20s, the other his 40s. The Boston Globe on Thursday identified one of them as Matthew Ellinger, who told the newspaper he wanted to file charges. Ellinger said the other man hit him after he asked the man to stop talking during the performance.

Diverse audience

The Globe critic who reviewed the music part of the performance wrote that two very different audiences were present: "the formally attired fundraiser crowd, who repaired afterward to a gala dinner at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, and the young adoring fans" of Folds.