Protesters interrupt Israel Philharmonic concert at London Proms
Reports are coming in from the BBC, British newspaper the Telegraph and Twitter that up to six disturbances disrupted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London and led to the cancellation of the concert's live radio broadcast Thursday night.
The BBC Proms, a 116-year-old concert series held each summer, regularly hosts visiting orchestras.
Anticipating disturbances for the performance, which was conducted by Zubin Mehta, the BBC increased security at the hall to include bag checks and said via Twitter that, "approx 30 people were removed by security."
Toward the end of the first piece, the orchestra was interrupted by Palestinian protesters seated in choir stalls behind the stage. They unfurled a pro-Palestine banner and started singing before being escorted out by Royal Albert Hall security, according to various reports.
Another group, seated in the upper level, opened Palestinian flags as the violin concerto, played by Gil Shaham, began. Those people also were removed while being hissed at and booed by other audience members, reports said.
Putting together a picture from various Twitter accounts, it appears that there were up to four further interruptions during the second half of the concert, each less effective than the previous. There are some reports of the Prom faithful attacking protesters physically, although these remain unconfirmed.
All Proms concerts are broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. When it became clear that the disturbances were more than a one-off, the live feed was taken offline and replaced by BBC studio recordings of the same pieces by a different orchestra.
A statement from the BBC said, "The invitation to the Orchestra was a purely musical one, offering the opportunity to hear this fine Orchestra in conductor Zubin Mehta’s 75th year, so we are disappointed that BBC Radio 3 audiences were not able to enjoy the full performance."
Pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters were positioned outside the Royal Albert Hall as well. Outside protests were staged when the orchestra visited Walt Disney Concert Hall in March and when Mehta received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Here's one person's video from inside Royal Albert Hall:
Photo: Zubin Mehta conducts the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in March at Disney Concert Hall. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times