Jun 17

On Sunday, May 5 at Symphony Hall in Boston, the venerable Handel & Haydn Society, founded in 1815, finished performing Mozart’s “Masonic Funeral” – and then, the unthinkable happened.

As Steve Hartman of CBS Sunday Morning would later report, “Someone yelled ‘wow’ and it resonated – not just in this hall, but throughout the classical music community. It was just such a departure from typical audience protocol, which is why the president of the Handel & Haydn Society was absolutely [pause] THRILLED.”

David Snead is the president of the Handel & Haydn Society, and he might have been expected to be annoyed or even angry that someone had disturbed the sacrosanct silence in Symphony Hall. Instead, he emailed everyone who had attended the concert and went public with the story in order to find the owner of that joyful voice. According to Boston.com, Snead wanted “to thank the boy for reminding all in the concert hall that the future of classical music is ‘alive and well’ — that the genre isn’t only for adults.”

Even before Snead discovered who the person was, he felt that that reaction to the music had “touched my life in a way that I’ll never forget.” Then he found out who it was.

Turns out that the voice calling out in Symphony Hall belonged to a young boy on the autism spectrum who is usually non-verbal. Nine-year-old Ronan Mattin lives in New Hampshire and attended the Handel & Haydn concert with his grandfather. The “Wow Kid” was found when relatives saw the news on TV.

Steve Hartman’s story about Ronan and his unexpected “wow” aired on Sunday, June 9. Hartman visited the Mattin family in New Hampshire, along with Snead and a cellist from the orchestra, Guy Fishman, who performed for an entranced Ronan.

Snead told Boston.com, “The little kid doesn’t know the rules,” he said. “It was a moment of joy, really.” That’s exactly what we hope to inspire at the Cape Symphony, at every concert and in everything we do. Giving the audience those moments of joy is our ultimate goal. And yes, it’s okay to respond to that joy by shouting “Wow!” in a silent concert hall.

Check out the new Cape Symphony season. When will your “wow” moment be?

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