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LONDON – It is traditionally the bastion of classical music populism, but a live broadcast of Bruch’s Violin Concerto at the BBC Proms had to be abandoned after noisy protests from a group calling itself the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
The performance – staged by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Zubin Mehta – carried on despite multiple occasions when the orchestra and conductor faced a storm of protest from a group in the audience at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Protestors seated in different parts of the audience waved “Free Palestine” banners and shouted out and sang at during the performance, while around them others in the audience booed and slow-clapped the protestors.
The BBC said that around seven interruptions from the audience eventually forced the performance off-air.
“We’re sorry that the concert was taken off air following hall disturbance. Glad both pieces were heard by the audience in the Royal Albert Hall,” the BBC’s Proms team said in a statement.
“We regret that as a result of sustained audience disturbance tonight’s concert was taken off BBC Radio 3.”
In a statement on its website ahead of the performance, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign had urged the BBC to call off the “ill-conceived” performance, calling the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra “one of the flagship organizations of the Israeli state.”
“Should the BBC fail to cancel this ill-conceived concert, we urge all people of conscience in the U.K. and especially those who stand for justice, freedom, equality and human rights to effectively protest this event, including by promoting a wide boycott of it, and by tapping into the impressive creative energies British supporters of Palestinian rights have always shown.”
The BBC intends to rebroadcast parts of the performance at a later date.
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