Security for Israel Orchestra, Israeli, Jewish Officials, ‘strict’ but ‘not Enough’

Security was “strict,” but only “to a certain extent,” at Carnegie Hall last night for the third of a three-concert series here by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, according to the hall’s security chief, James Bland.

He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent during intermission that security for the concert, which honored Israel’s upcoming 25th anniversary, was at one-fourth or one-fifth the strength of that accorded a Russian dance troupe presented earlier this year by Columbia Artists Management, the victim of a bomb explosion in Jan. in protest against its cultural exchange program.

Carnegie security last night was such, in fact, that the JTA correspondent was able to reach his balcony seat without meeting a single guard, and held perhaps the only untorn ticket in the house. Bland, expressing astonishment on being informed of this, said there were ten security personnel on hand–nine paid for by the American-Israel Cultural Foundation, sponsor of the concert, and one paid for by the hall. He would have had to pay for additional security “out of my own pocket,” he said. At the Russians’ performance, he recalled, there were “40 or 50″ guards.

SYMPHONY DEDICATED TO MUNICH VICTIMS, ISRAEL

Bland admitted that protection for the Israeli musicians–and for conductor Leonard Bernstein, violinist Isaac Stern, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, Mayor John V. Lindsay, Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah, Israeli Minister Uri Gordon, Hadassah officials and other notables–was “not enough.”

Additionally, ticket holders were not frisked in the lobby, although packages were checked. Bland explained that many of those attending were “first-nighter and regulars” known to the management, but he and another security official conceded that the desire to avoid patrons’ “embarrassment” could have resulted in the infiltration of someone hiding a small explosive. Last night, however, there was no trouble in the 2784-seat hall, which was sold out (although a few seats remained empty).

Bernstein conducted Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, Violin Concerto and Third (Eroica) Symphony, dedicating the final work’s four movements to “those heroic champions who died so viciously a month ago in Munich,” to the Israeli nation, to the spirit of Israel and to the Philharmonic itself. The overture and the funeral march movement of the symphony were played at the Munich memorial to the murdered athletes. Bernstein also marked a 25th anniversary–of his 1947 debut with the then Palestine Symphony Orchestra, which had been founded in 1936 by Arturo Toscanini. Bernstein received the Cultural Foundation’s King Solomon Award as “one very small measure of our enduring gratitude.”

NEXT STORY