Observer 2011 classical music review notes “trouble” brought by Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Fiona Maddocks’ report, “The Best classical music of 2011“, Observer, Dec. 11, began her take on the best classical performances as follows:

This year’s riots and protests to some degree penetrated the usually self-contained world of music. When word spread that the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra would play at the BBC Proms, everyone anticipated trouble.  It proved the case. Hecklers shouted in the Royal Albert Hall, bringing the Radio 3 live broadcast to a halt. Players from the London Philharmonic Orchestra, among several signatories of a letter to a national newspaper protesting at the Israel concert, were suspended, generating a second level of heated debate which is still, if behind the scenes, working itself out.

Other visiting orchestras brought purely musical pleasures

Yes, those Israelis. Bringing trouble wherever they go.

In fact the only ones causing trouble were the Palestine Solidarity Campaign anti-Israel activists, and their few fellow political travelers, who somehow found it progressive to boycott a performance by Israeli musicians.

A handful of London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO) musicians joined in calls for a cultural boycott of the Jewish state, expressing their view that the performance by the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) should have been cancelled.

Specifically, the musicians signed a letter as members of the LPO denouncing the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as “an instrument of the country’s propaganda,” echoing Sarah Colborne, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) who characterized the Israel’s Orchestra as an organization which lends “strategic support to Israel’s occupation.”

Yes, classical musicians performing for the national orchestra of the Jewish state are truly just  another insidious element of Zionist oppression.

PSC, for those unaware, is an organisation which continually has demonstrated itself compromised by the explicit expressions of antisemitism of its “activists” and leaders; a group so “progressive” that it invited the extremist Islamist preacher, Sheikh Raed Salah, to speak – a man who was convicted for funding Hamas, who repeatedly incited his followers to violence, and who called homosexuality “a crime” that starts “the collapse of every society”.

However, as Richard Millet noted about the shameful disruptions at the Proms in contrast with the musical pleasure appreciated by the overwhelming majority of the London audience:

The band played on, the audience inside the Royal Albert Hall loved it and screamed “More!”,


17 replies »

  1. Yes, those Israelis. Bringing trouble wherever they go.

    But Fiona Maddocks made no such insinuation! What’s wrong with mentioning that trouble had been expected?

    Your headline is totally misleading. Why?

    In fact the only ones causing trouble were the Palestine Solidarity Campaign anti-Israel activists

    Maddocks referred to “hecklers”. She certainly wasn’t blaming the trouble on the musicians, was she?

      • What “party line”? How about explaining where I was mistaken? Shame on me? You must be joking!

        And what does “church-lady” mean, btw?

    • Yes she did pretzelberg. You just didn’t pick it up because you are a literal thinker who cannot follow nuance.

        • It’s not a juvenile insult and to point out the insinuation wouldn’t do any good pretzelberg, because you wouldn’t be able to get it. It’s not your fault, it’s the way you are wired.

  2. I suppose you could argue that a music critic should come down firmly and unequivocally against anyone (for whatever reason) heckling and disrupting a classical music performance, which Maddocks fails to do, but I just can’t see any support for the hecklers in this at all, she merely reports the fact that it happened.

    I have to agree with Pretzelberg on this one – you have had to stretch the wording of the article very far to find some sort of negative connotation. I wager that if this article had appeared anywhere else than in a Guardian-group publication, you wouldn’t have blinked an eye, Adam.

    • She didn’t condemn them either, did she? If you are right that’s an example of neutrality which is as rare as hens’ teeth in the Guardian.

  3. The problem with this article is that it’s mostly a middling review of a non-political subject (classicial music) written by a writer of profoundly average talent, yet she seems determined to show she can be Left of Left as well as any of the CiF’s stable of hack anti-Zionist political writers. It’s not hard to see readers coming away from the first paragraph and thinking about the Israel Orchestra’s performance in terms that are sympathetic to the Arab Spring and the BDS movement (although I don’t think the “everybody expected trouble” is anything worse than the lazy Left expectation that their supporters will act like idiots in public whenever they’re pissed off). I’ve said before that I’d like to believe the Guradian isn’t a broken septic system on these subjects. I would really like to believe that.

    • Ben, I have to agree with Adam. The sequence she presents foregrounds Israel – trouble. “Hecklers” are surely people who interrupt a speaker. It’s play up (while lying or as good as), play down. PSC brownshirts is a good description of them. They aren’t just “hecklers”.

  4. The only Music these radical leftists people like to hear is the whining of the palestinians complaining about how badly they are being treated by Israel….

    Do ANY of the Muslim or Arab states have a Philharmonic Orchestra,the only music you will hear from them is the harmonic music of gunfire……

  5. Some years ago, while I was working briefly in Kuwait, I witnessed a TV performance by something called the ‘Kuwait Symphony Orchestra’. I believe the musicians were employed mostly to provide sound tracks for TV programmes. It was hard to imagine a more aggressive, strident and militant noise. What they needed in the orchestra were some good Jewish violinists. I suggested that to the TV company, but curiously received no answer.