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Protesters disrupt Jerusalem Quartet Wigmore Hall broadcast

Posted in BBC Radio 3, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2010 by Robin Gosnall

BBC Radio 3 pulled the plug on the broadcast of this recital, announcing a “disruption” at the Wigmore Hall. Listeners were startled to hear singing interrupt Mozart’s String Quartet in D major K. 575. I think the broadcast should have continued, but of course it is typical of the craven cowardice of the BBC that it did not.

Within an hour, the incident was reported in the Jewish Chronicle (and nowhere else):

A lunchtime performance by the Jerusalem Quartet at London’s Wigmore Hall, being broadcast live on BBC Radio Three, was taken off air partway through the concert on Monday afternoon after protesters disrupted the event. But the musicians played on and completed the Mozart and Ravel concert programme.

The clash came after four or five pro-Palestinian protesters bought tickets for the concert, and, about five to ten minutes into the music, began shouting and heckling the Israeli musicians. They shouted: “The Quartet, who are cultural ambassadors for the state of Israel, are promoting the interests of Israel and all its policies against the Palestinians, to the British public.”

The demonstrators were taken away by Wigmore Hall security officers and a decision was taken by the concert hall management to take the broadcast off-air “in order to deny these people publicity.”

A clearly shaken John Gilhooly, director of the Wigmore Hall, told the JC: “It is such a pity that music has become politicised.”

John Gilhooly should sit down and have a chat with the members of the Jerusalem Quartet about politicising music.

No doubt the protestors are feeling very pleased with themselves (they organised the demonstration through Twitter), but beyond making John Gilhooly sweat and irritating a couple of hundred people who couldn’t care less about the plight of Palestinians, what did they achieve?

Absolutely … nothing.

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