Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Anti-Israel Protest Disrupts BBC Proms Concert in London
Thursday, September 01, 2011 - 06:29 PM
Protesters disrupted a performance on Thursday by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the BBC Proms, one of Britain’s most venerable concert series.
Pro-Palestinian group Palestine Solidarity Campaign had called for the BBC to cancel the concert and urged people to boycott it in protest. It claimed that the Israeli orchestra showed "complicity in whitewashing Israel's persistent violations of international law and human rights."
The concert took place at London’s Royal Albert Hall, where the annual summer Proms series dates back to 1941.
The protests began halfway into Webern's Passacaglia when a group rose to its feet in the hall's upper balcony, waving banners and singing protests to the tune of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." Later, as the Israeli-American soloist, Gil Shaham, was about to play Bruch's violin concerto, some people in the audience began booing and shouting.
BBC Radio 3 interrupted its live broadcast twice before returning later. The BBC Proms apologized on Twitter, saying that the concert’s live radio broadcast was taken off the air "as a result of sustained audience disturbance." It also reported that about 30 people were removed from the hall by security.
Some audience members tweeted that the protesters were shouted at to stop.
In February, the orchestra's U.S. tour was also met with protests, including demonstrations outside Carnegie Hall.