BBC Proms broadcast disrupted by protesters

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Pro-Palestine protesters force Israel Philharmonic concert off the air

Radio 3 was forced to stop a live Proms broadcast for the first time ever when pro-Palestine protesters disrupted a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) and conductor Zubin Mehta last night (1 September).

When Mehta stood up to conduct Bruch’s Violin Concerto, with soloist Gil Shaham, a group of protesters began shouting pro-Palestine slogans. The protesters in turn were jeered by many audience members and as a result Radio 3 suspended its live broadcast of the concert. The Prom continued, however, once about 30 protesters had been evicted from the Hall.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) had called on the BBC to cancel the concert ‘due to IPO's complicity in whitewashing Israel’s persistent violations of international law and human rights’. In a statement on its website the PSC they encouraged people to boycott and protest against the concert.

A group of musicians had also written to The Independentcalling for the concert to be cancelled. Security at the Royal Albert Hall had been stepped up because of the controversy surrounding the concert.

Following the disturbances, the BBC issued a statement saying: ‘The invitation to the Orchestra was a purely musical one, offering the opportunity to hear this fine Orchestra in conductor Zubin Metha's 75th year.

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

Violinist Gil Shaham tweeted later that evening ‘I'm used to getting heckled after I start playing. This time I didn't even play a note.’

The BBC has said that it will broadcast part of the concert on 7 September at 2.30pm.

Elizabeth Davis