A ‘full body orgasm’ at the L.A. Phil? Witnesses offer conflicting accounts

Groups of people milling about outside Walt Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Molly Grant was enjoying the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony on Friday at the Walt Disney Concert Hall when she heard what she described as a “scream/moan” erupt from the balcony.

“Everyone kind of turned to see what was happening,” Grant, who was seated near the person who allegedly made the noise, told The Times on Sunday in a phone interview.

“I saw the girl after it had happened, and I assume that she ... had an orgasm because she was heavily breathing, and her partner was smiling and looking at her — like in an effort to not shame her,” said Grant, who works for a jewelry company and lives in Los Feliz. “It was quite beautiful.”


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Multiple people who attended the L.A. Phil concert on Friday reported hearing a woman making a moaning noise during the symphony’s second movement.

One attendee, composer and music producer Magnus Fiennes, described the sound on Twitter as that of a person having a “loud and full body orgasm.”

An alleged audio recording of the moment — where someone can be heard crying out during a quiet beat in the music — was making the rounds on social media. Attendees who spoke to The Times said that the clip was similar to what they’d heard.

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“[F]riends who went to the LA philharmonic last night are reporting that in the middle of the show some lady had a SCREAMING orgasm, to the point where the whole orchestra stopped playing,” tweeted journalist Jocelyn Silver. “some people really know how to live...”

However, people in attendance said that the musicians played through the disturbance without stopping. Classical pianist Sharon Su tweeted that she “checked with someone who works at the LA Phil and they confirmed” that the orchestra continued playing through the commotion.

The Times has since confirmed that the orchestra kept performing and that there were no further disruptions.

It is still unclear what exactly occurred in the audience. The Times has contacted the L.A. Phil for comment but has not been able to identify or contact the person who made the sound.


Other audience members disputed the orgasm theory, offering that the woman could have made the noise while waking after having fallen asleep. Some worried that it could have been related to a medical condition or emergency.

One attendee who was seated in the row directly behind the person who made the noise said it appeared as if the woman was waking up from a sleep attack when she made the sound.

“Pretty quickly, she sort of fell onto her partner’s shoulders, and then onto his lap. And then her body went limp,” recalled the audience member, who requested anonymity to discuss the incident. “Maybe like five seconds later, she kind of awoke, and that’s when she let out a scream.”

The audience member who was seated in the row behind the person said she had previously witnessed a person with narcolepsy experience a sleep attack, and what she saw at the L.A. Phil seemed similar.

After the woman made the noise, her partner and another woman seated next to her asked if she was OK, and she replied that she was, according to the audience member, who reported overhearing the exchange.

“I know someone else mentioned she was smiling, but I’m pretty sure she was just really embarrassed because other people were looking at her,” the audience member told The Times.


Another concertgoer emailed The Times to say he heard the noise but did not think it was a sound of ecstasy.

Friday’s program, led by conductor Elim Chan, also included a performance of Thomas Adès’ “Concentric Paths” Violin Concerto.

The L.A. Phil’s online program notes include this description of the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5:

“The ... luscious main theme was adapted for a popular love song; Tchaikovsky’s skillful orchestration, however, lifts the mood from sentimentality to high Romanticism. The movement’s principal melody is presented in a memorable solo by the horn, followed by other appealing woodwind solos.”

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Silver Lake resident and music agent Lukas Burton said the sound from the audience member was “wonderfully timed” to a “romantic swell” in the symphony.

“One can’t know exactly what happened, but it seemed very clear from the sound that it was an expression of pure physical joy,” Burton said. “A sort of classical-music equivalent of that scene in a movie where someone is talking loudly in a party or a nightclub, and then the record suddenly stops and they say something that everyone hears.”


While the outburst was clearly an unusual and surprising moment for a classical music concert, Burton described it as “rather wonderful and refreshing.”

“There was a sort of gasp in the audience,” Burton said. “But I think everyone felt that was a rather lovely expression of somebody who was so transported by the music that it had some kind of effect on them physically or, dare I say, even sexually.”