Political link: Zubin Mehta’s show was disrupted in London
PRO-PALESTINIAN demonstrators repeatedly interrupted a performance by Israel’s Philharmonic Orchestra at London’s famed Proms festival yesterday in a protest against its links with the Israeli army.
The orchestra, conducted by Zubin Mehta, had just begun playing at the Royal Albert Hall when a group of protesters in the stalls stood up, started singing and held up towels bearing letters that spelled "Palestine", a BBC spokeswoman said.
Mehta is celebrating 50 years with the orchestra, which last played at the festival in 2003.
Security was tightened before the show at London’s Royal Albert Hall after protesters set up camp outside and urged concert-goers to “rip up their tickets”.
However, the measures could not prevent a group of around 30 demonstrators from loudly booing and shouting as soloist Gil Shaham prepared to play Max Bruch’s violin concerto.
BBC Radio 3, which was broadcasting the event, temporarily took the performance off air.
“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,” a BBC statement said.
Palestine campaign director Sarah Colborne earlier called on “those who support peace and human rights” not to attend.
“The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s services to the Israeli army continue up to the present day, performing for Israeli soldiers at army outposts,” she said.
The Proms, which is run by the BBC, is a world-renowned eight-week season of around 100 classical concerts that has been running since 1895.
A spokesman for the BBC said the invitation was “a purely musical one”.
“We will be having extra security as protesters could get into the hall but there will be bag searches of the audience which they will be alerted to,” the spokesman said before the concert.
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