Michael Tilson Thomas throws cough sweets into audience

27 November 2013, 11:24 | Updated: 29 November 2013, 12:54

Chicago Symphony Orchestra guest conductor Michael Tilson Thomas stunned a concert audience on Saturday night by throwing cough sweets into the crowd in an effort to silence some coughing.

Tilson Thomas left the stage after conducting the first movement of Mahler's 9th Symphony and returned with a handful of throat lozenges, which he then tossed into the audience.

An eyewitness, Lawrence A. Johnson of Chicago Classical Review, described the scene: "On Saturday night, there was even more coughing throughout the first movement. The conductor went offstage and emerged with two large handfuls of loose cough lozenges, which he tossed underhanded into the main floor audience seats."

"He said he hoped that would solve the problem and encouraged audience members to pass them on to those that need them."

Though Tilson Thomas has not commented on the incident, a spokesperson for the Chicago Symphony said that "the audience responded in the same good-natured spirit, with laughter and applause."

The issue of coughing in concerts has been a constant source of debate among artists and concert-goers, with research concluding that people are in fact more likely to cough if they are at a classical concert.