Palestinian protest disrupts IPO concert in UK

BBC to re- broadcast full London concert.

September 2, 2011 19:56
2 minute read.
Palestinian protest disrupts IPO concert in UK

zubin mehta good 88 224. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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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 festival.

BBC correspondent Tom Symonds, reporting from the concert hall, said people tried to disrupt the concert.

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“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.

Minister for 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 orchestra.”

“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.

Meanwhile the, 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 culture.”

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 Philharmonic Orchestra.

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.”

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