United Kingdom: Four musicians suspended over Israel-Palestine row



United Kingdom:
Four musicians suspended over Israel-Palestine row

In September 2011, four members of the London Philarmonic Orchestra were suspended for nine months after calling to cancel a concert with the Israel Philarmonic Orchestra.

Cellist Sue Sutherley and violinists Tom Eisner, Nancy Elan and Sarah Streatfeild were suspended until June 2012 because the Independent newspaper carried their professional affiliations when it published a letter from them and others, calling on the BBC to cancel a concert with the Israel Philarmonic Orchestra at the Proms on 1 September 2011.

Since the suspensions were announced, there has been a strong backlash from leading musicians, academics and other professionals in the United Kingdom, who seek not only the reinstatement of the four musicians, but also that others working in the arts will be able to express their views freely on matters of general interest — including the Israel-Palestine conflict — without fear of draconian reprisals.

“Music and politics do not mix”
In a statement, Tim Walker, the London Philarmonic Orchestra’s chief executive, and Martin Hohmann, its chairman, said the suspensions sent “a strong and clear message that their actions will not be tolerated … the orchestra would never restrict the right of its players to express themselves freely, however such expression has to be independent of the LPO itself.”

“The company has no wish to end the careers of four talented musicians but … for the LPO, music and politics do not mix.”

They added that the orchestra had no political or religious affiliations and strongly believed in the power of music to bring peace and harmony to the world, not war, terror and discord.

Here is the letter which was published in the Independent newspaper:

Published in the Independent on 30 August 2011:

Proms exploited for arts propaganda campaign

Perspectives on the Middle East conflict

As musicians we are dismayed that the BBC has invited the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to play at the Proms on 1 September. The IPO has a deep involvement with the Israeli state – not least its self-proclaimed “partnership” with the Israeli Defence Forces. This is the same state and army that impedes in every way it can the development of Palestinian culture, including the prevention of Palestinian musicians from travelling abroad to perform.
Our main concern is that Israel deliberately uses the arts as propaganda to promote a misleading image of Israel. Through this campaign, officially called “Brand Israel”, denials of human rights and violations of international law are hidden behind a cultural smokescreen. The IPO is perhaps Israel’s prime asset in this campaign.
The Director of the Proms, Roger Wright, was asked to cancel the concert in accordance with the call from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI). He rejected this call, saying that the invitation is “purely musical”.
Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians fits the UN definition of apartheid. We call on the BBC to cancel this concert.

Derek Ball (composer)
Frances Bernstein (community choir leader)
Steve Bingham (violinist)
John Claydon (saxophonist)
Malcolm Crowthers (music photographer)
Raymond Deane (composer)
Tom Eisner (violinist LPO)
Nancy Elan (violinist LPO)
Deborah Fink (soprano)
Catherine Ford (violinist, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment)
Reem Kelani (Palestinian singer, musician and broadcaster)
Les Levidow (violinist)
Susie Meszaros (violinist, Chilingirian Quartet)
Roy Mowatt (violinist, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment)
Ian Pace (pianist)
Leon Rosselson (singer-songwriter)
Dominic Saunders (pianist)
Chris Somes-Charlton (artist manager)
Leni Solinger (violinist)
Sarah Streatfeild (violinist LPO)
Sue Sutherley (cellist, LPO)
Tom Suarez (violinist, New York)
Kareem Taylor (Oud Player/Guitarist and Composer)
Miriam Walton (pianist, organist and French horn player)

Source: www.independent.co.uk

Urging for a cultural boycott
We, Palestinian cultural institutions, including the leading musical organizations, urge the BBC to cancel the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) concert at this year’s Proms, due to IPO’s complicity in whitewashing Israel’s persistent violations of international law and human rights.

Excerpt of statement from Palestinian cultural organisations explaining why they earmarked the Israel Philharmonic as a boycott target. To read the statement, click on link below.

PACBI, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel – 18 July 2011:
‘BBC Proms: Cancel Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Invitation’




Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Proms concert disrupted by protest – video

BBC Proms performance by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 1 September 2011 was interrupted by protests by the pro-Palestinian group BDS London. A live broadcast of the concert on BBC Radio 3 was taken off air because of ‘sustained audience disturbance’. The performance continued after the demonstrators left the venue

The Guardian – 2 September 2011


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Search: “Israel Philharmonic Orchestra” + “Proms”

Letters and articles about the “LPO 4”

Orpheus Complex – 14 September 2011:
‘In Defence of the LPO Four

News Statesman, blog by Ben White – 15 September 2011:
‘Musicians suspended over Israel Proms row’

The Guardian, letters – 18 September 2011:
‘Suspension of orchestra members could set dangerous precedent’

The Guardian, blog by Tom Service – 21 September 2011:
‘But music and politics have always mixed’

The Guardian, arts diary by Charlotte Higgins – 20 September 2011:
‘From the LPO four controversy to the end of an era in Glasgow’

Arts Journal, blog by Norman Lebrecht – 16 September 2011:
‘Why the LPO had to act against four players’

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