LONDON – BBC Radio pulled its coverage of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at
the Royal Albert Hall in London on Thursday evening, as a small number of people
disrupted the concert by shouting anti-Israel slogans at the orchestra, which
was performing as part of the prestigious annual BBC Proms classic music
BBC correspondent Tom Symonds, reporting from the concert hall,
said people tried to disrupt the concert.
“As Zubin Mehta stood up and
began each piece, a small group of protesters each time tried to stop the
music,” he said. He added that the artists “took it all in their stride
and had smiles on their faces.”
The audience cheered as the hecklers were
wrestled to the ground and removed by security staff.
Culture Ed Vaizey, who was in the audience, tweeted, “Demonstrators seem to have
turned the entire audience pro-Israel.”
The BBC announced that it would
broadcast the concert on Wednesday.
A BBC Proms spokeswoman told The
Jerusalem Post on Thursday night that organizers were disappointed that radio
listeners were not able to enjoy the full performance of “this fine
“We regret that as a result of sustained audience disruption
within the concert hall which affected the ability to hear the music, tonight’s
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Prom was taken off air,” the spokeswoman said.
“The invitation to the Orchestra was a purely musical one, offering the
opportunity to hear this fine Orchestra in conductor Zubin Metha’s 75th year, so
we are disappointed that BBC Radio 3 audiences were not able to enjoy the full
performance. BBC Radio 3 broadcast recordings of the same music, however, the
performance continued in the hall.
“We will broadcast part of the concert
next Wednesday 7 September at 2:30 p.m. Throughout the concert approximately 30
people were removed by security which had been increased in anticipation of the
possibility of disturbances,” she added.
Outside the hall, anti-Israel
and pro- Israel protesters gathered.
Anti-Israel activists had tried
since July to persuade organizers to cancel the concert. The calls had been
firmly rejected by the Proms organizers.
Roger Wright, director of the
Proms, refused to cancel the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra concert saying that
the invitation was “purely musical” and merit-based.
London Philharmonic Orchestra distanced itself from four of its members who
signed a letter published in Wednesday’s Independent newspaper accusing Israel
of “impeding in every way it can the development of Palestinian
Signatories of the letter, who were mainly seasoned anti-Israel
activists, lambasted the decision to hold the concert.
Tom Eisner, Nancy
Elan, Sarah Streatfeild and Sue Sutherley all signed the letter as part of a
highly politicized campaign criticizing the decision to host the Israel
On Thursday, Timothy Walker, chief executive and
artistic director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, told the Post: “The
views expressed by four members of the LPO concerning the Israel Philharmonic
Orchestra and the Proms are the views of the individuals and not the company.”