LPO suspends anti-Israel activists

By Marcus Dysch, September 15, 2011
Members of the London Philharmonic in concert

Members of the London Philharmonic in concert

Four members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra have been suspended after they encouraged 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 two dozen anti-Israel musicians who signed a letter to the Independent on August 30.

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

In a 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."

One of the two female violinists was initially suspended pending an investigation last week for launching an anti-Israel tirade at a pre-Prom event.

Last updated: 12:42pm, September 15 2011