British musicians suspended for boycott letter


(JTA) — The London Philharmonic Orchestra suspended four musicians for calling for the cancellation of a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall.

Violinists Tom Eisner, Nancy Elan and Sarah Streatfeild, along with cellist Sue Sutherley, were suspended until June for using the London orchestra’s name in their complaint.

The suspensions sent "a strong and clear message that their actions will not be tolerated," Tim Walker, the London orchestra’s chief executive, and Martin Hohmann, its chairman, said in a statement. "(T)he 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 letter signed by the musicians appeared in the Independent newspaper two days before the concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The Israeli orchestra was participating in the BBC Proms summer classical music festival.

Hecklers in the audience repeatedly shouted during the Sept. 1 appearance by the orchestra at Royal Albert Hall. BBC’s Radio 3 interrupted its broadcast during the heckling at one point, then suspended the broadcast again after more shouting. The concert was reaired, without the interruptions, about a week later.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign had called for a boycott of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The BBC refused calls to cancel the performance, saying the invitation to perform was "purely musical," according to Britain’s Jewish Chronicle.

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