UK musicians suspended over Israel Proms row

By Marcus Dysch, September 13, 2011
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Protesters clash outside the Royal Albert Hall

Protesters clash outside the Royal Albert Hall

Four members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra have been suspended for calling on the BBC to cancel the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s Proms appearance earlier this month.

Cellist Sue Sutherley and violinists Tom Eisner, Nancy Elan and Sarah Streatfeild were among those who signed a letter to the Independent on August 30.

They claimed Israel was an apartheid state and called for the BBC to cancel the concert.

Each indicated their membership of the LPO alongside their signature. Their suspensions are expected to be for up to nine months.

In a joint statement, LPO chief executive Timothy Walker and chairman Martin Hohmann said players’ views were a private matter and the orchestra had no political or religious affiliation.

But they added: “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 and must not be done in any way that associates them with the LPO.

“The company has no wish to end the careers of four talented musicians, but the board’s decision in this matter will send a strong and clear message that such actions will not be tolerated by the LPO. For the LPO, music and politics do not mix.”

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s Proms September 1 performance was repeatedly disrupted by anti-Israel protesters inside the Royal Albert Hall.

Last updated: 7:40pm, September 13 2011