Perfect performance—or publicity?

Have you heard about Lukáš Kmit, the Slovakian musician whose performance was interrupted by a cellphone’s ringtone? Many hailed his response as “perfect.”

Unfortunately, the Forbes article I read misidentified the instrument as a violin instead of a viola. (A minor detail—but not to my string-playing friends.) So I went looking for another link to post on Facebook.

That’s how I came across The Telegraph’s article. It covered much of the same information as Forbes, but with an added twist: The Telegraph noted that,

“… some viewers have found the musician’s unflappable reaction suspicious, suggesting the video may be a publicity stunt for the Finnish company Nokia.”

With this newly introduced suspicion in mind, I watched the video again. And to my surprise, what had before seemed like a brilliant, witty improvisation suddenly felt a bit staged—if only because of Kmit’s long, expectant pause.

I was reminded once again of the power that news outlets have in shaping our perceptions, simply by deciding which facts to present.

I’d love to hear what you think. Was Kmit’s musical retort a perfect, professional response? Or was it part of a staged publicity stunt? Discuss amongst yourselves and then post a comment.

In the meantime, I will leave you with another Facebook gem that hadn’t made much sense to me until today. (For those who don’t read music, the red notes translate into the Nokia ringtone.) Brilliant!


  1. Hard telling, of course, whether this is staged or not. But great point about how we can be manipulated by how a story is framed.

  2. For me, I think that there are some things I’d rather not know. When I discover a photograph that I thought was a “brilliant catch” was in fact staged, I suddenly hate it; because like most people (I assume) I don’t like to think I am being cheated. So I’d rather believe that there IS a Father Christmas. And the fairies at the bottom of my garden are not just drunken drag queens, passed out after last night’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 😉

    • You’re so right, Xpat: No one likes to be fooled. The fact that you prefer to err on the side of believing (whether in Father Christmas or in drunken drag queens) says something about your tendency to find beauty in the world and goodness in those around you. By the way, the Easter Bunny exists as well. I saw seven of him in my back yard this morning. 🙂

  3. If this is in fact a clever marketing ploy, then I feel sad. And a bit cheated, as I found it so delightful when I first saw it a while ago. (Btw: speaking as an ex-viola player: Oh H, how *could* you and Forbes mistake its beautiful mellow tones for a mere violin? 😉 ) I think I will choose to continue to believe in the musician’s brilliance and spontaneity. XpatScot, I too choose Father Christmas and fairies at the bottom of the garden! Let beauty triumph over cynicism!

  4. Imho your average classical musician who’s been grinding out endless scales since he/she was 6 years old could quite conceivably whip out a scale-descending Nokia ring tone (which isn’t exactly Mozart) on the fly without much trouble, especially if he/she is lucky enough to have perfect pitch.

    I don’t find his pause quite as suspicious as you do, and if I were staging it I’d be more inclined to play it without the pause like I was the man. But maybe that’s why Nokia hasn’t asked me to direct any of their viral marketing campaigns…anyway that’s my two cents.

    • You’re absolutely right that an accomplished musician could easily play the Nokia ringtone by ear and then improvise off of it on the spot, Corey. As for the pause … well, I’ll have to respectfully disagree. But who cares? As Sallyann commented, it makes ya smile, either way. BTW: I’ll put in a good word for ya with the folks at Nokia. Grin.

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