Amsterdam concert hall accused of ‘capitulating to terrorism’ as it cancels Jerusalem Quartet

The Royal Concertgebouw said it could not guarantee the safety of visitors or performers


Two performances by the Jerusalem Quartet in Amsterdam have been cancelled (Photo: Facebook)

An Israeli musician has accused a celebrated Dutch concert hall of “capitulating to terrorism” after the venue cancelled two performances by the Jerusalem Quartet because of planned anti-Israel demonstrations against the show.

The string quartet was due to perform at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam on Thursday and Saturday, but the hall cancelled the concerts “due to announced demonstrations and recent developments surrounding protests in Amsterdam”, according to classical music site Slipped Disc.

“Until recently, the demonstrations [against the performances] were peaceful and [there was] no reason for us not to allow the concerts to go ahead,” the venue’s general manager, Simon Reinink, told the JC.

"However, recent developments in and around the University of Amsterdam [meant] that, after extremely intense discussions, we came to the decision not to allow the concerts to go ahead. We could not guarantee the safety within our building of staff, visitors and musicians. We are very sorry for all visitors and not least for the musicians of the Jerusalem Quartet.”

Reinink noted that ultimately the Concertgebouw would be responsible for the estimated 2,500 people who would be on the premises for the concerts and that “the security situation can quickly become precarious.”

He added that the venue would “look for a new concert date for a concert where safety can be guaranteed”.

The quartet’s cellist Kyril Zlotnikov blasted the decision, however, accusing the Concertgebouw’s of “capitulation to bullying and terrorism”.

Zlotnikov asked his social media followers to sign a petition set up by the British classical pianist Danny Driver calling on the venue to reverse its decision.

The petition, which had already amassed over 3,500 signatures within six hours of being created, asks Concertgebouw management to “show strength of character in defending the concert platform as a realm for free expression of the sublime yearnings of the human spirit otherwise failed by words and actions that all too often lapse into meaningless, pseudo-moral binaries”.

It adds: “The Concertgebouw’s behaviour succumbs to an ‘education at the college of fools’ rather than continuing to affirm itself as a bastion of the ineffable. We wholeheartedly protest this act and as musicians call for an immediate redress.”

The decision to cancel the concerts comes as tensions mount in the Dutch capital.

This week, the University of Amsterdam said it could not guarantee safety on campus amid violent anti-Israel protests and the university closed for two days. Activists have clashed with riot police on the campus three times in the past week.

Founded in 1996, The Jerusalem Quartet is a leading chamber music group, with numerous awards to its name. This is not the first time the group has found itself as the focus of anti-Israel protests – in February demonstrators disrupted one of the their concerts in The Hague

Back in 2010, the quartet's BBC Radio Three broadcast from London’s Wigmore Hall was interrupted by anti-Israel protesters.

Last Thursday, the group performed a sold-out concert at Wigmore Hall, which went ahead without disruption.

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