Proms disrupted by Palestinian protests

BBC Radio 3 pulls the plug on the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra after audience disruption

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BBC Radio 3 had to interrupt its live broadcast of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s Proms concert twice last night as a result of disturbances caused by members of The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

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While demonstrators outside London’s Royal Albert Hall waved banners and chanted against the performance, pro-Palestinian protesters inside sang and shouted each time the orchestra’s longest-serving maestro, Zubin Mehta, stood to conduct.

Prom-goers raised a robust response to the interruptions by booing and yelling, “Go home” at the agitators.

The first piece, Anton Webern’s Passacaglia, was broadcast as played but with a minor interruption when protestors started chanting to the tune of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

But it was when soloist Gil Shaham took to the stage to play Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1 that the main disturbance started and the BBC took the decision to pull the plug and play the concerto from a CD. The performance continued in the Hall and a group of protesters were ejected.

After the interval the broadcast resumed but a second group of protesters caused further disruption and the programme was taken off air completely. The final two pieces by Albéniz and Rimsky-Korsakov were played from CDs.

Throughout the concert approximately 30 people were removed by security, which had been increased in anticipation of disturbances.

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The BBC Proms team apologised on Twitter for the interrupted performance, and the Proms website promised that the repeat on Wednesday 7 September at 2:30pm would broadcast part of the concert.