London Phil Orchestra suspends anti-Israel musicians

Move followscall to cancel a performance of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in London earlier this month.

London Philharmonic Orchestra 311 (R) (photo credit: Arko Datta/Reuters)
London Philharmonic Orchestra 311 (R)
(photo credit: Arko Datta/Reuters)
LONDON – The London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) has suspended four of its musicians following their call to cancel a performance of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) in London earlier this month.
The IPO played at London’s prestigious Albert Hall on September 1, as part of the BBC Proms, one of the most revered classic-music festivals in the world.
Pinchas Zukerman with the IPO
Mehta: Arab Spring may be upbeat for Israel Phil
Cellist Sue Sutherley and violinists Tom Eisner, Nancy Elan and Sarah Streatfeild signed a letter as LPO musicians calling for the BBC to cancel the concert.
Published in the Independent newspaper on August 30 as part of a highly-politicized campaign criticizing the decision to host the IPO, the letter referred to Israel as an “apartheid state” which impedes “in every way it can the development of Palestinian culture.”
When the letter was published, the LPO distanced itself from the four musicians saying that the views were of the individuals, and not the company.
However in a statement released on Tuesday, the LPO’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director, Timothy Walker, and Chairman Martin Hohmann said that the LPO’s board had made the decision to suspend the four to send “a strong and clear message that their actions will not be tolerated” in the name of the LPO.
“The LPO has no political or religious affiliations and strongly believes in the power of music to bring peace and harmony to the world, not war, terror and discord.
“The orchestra would never restrict the right of its players to express themselves freely; however, such expression has to be independent of the LPO itself and must not be done in any way that associates them with the LPO,” the statement stated.
“The company has no wish to end the careers of four talented musicians, but the board’s decision in this matter will send a strong and clear message that such actions will not be tolerated by the LPO and that for the LPO, music and politics do not mix,” they said.
The BBC refused to heed to demands to cancel the September 1 concert, however a live-radio broadcast was halted after anti-Israel activists repeatedly disrupted the performance.
The BBC broadcasted a recording of the concert the following week, without the screams of the protesters.