Hall is to blame for London’s latest concert disruption

Hall is to blame for London’s latest concert disruption


norman lebrecht

April 26, 2015

The ugly political eruption at Friday night’s Jerusalem Quartet concert could and should have been prevented. The Quartet are a regular target for a small, known group of disrupters. The Wigmore Hall, where they usually play, have taken measures to exclude those noise-makers and, if one slips through, to eject the agitator with minimum fuss and force.

The Queen Elizabeth Hall was wantonly unprepared for the eventuality.

Ariane Todes of Elbow Music tells Slipped Disc:

anti-israel south bank

‘The hall had lots of security guards on the outside, fussing around with walkie talkies, but no security measures at all – no bag searches or anything, and lots of different doors to the foyer. When the shouting started (in the Minuet and trio of the Mozart) a couple of ushers went up to the guy and must have asked him to leave but he just kept going and the woman joined in. It took a minute for a lady with a walkie talkie to come by but she didn’t seem to be able to do anything either. None of the security guards from outside came in. A guy from the audience walked up to them and started getting angry with them. I’m not entirely sure what happened at the end but it looked like they were gently prodded out.’

Ariane adds: ‘The players kept their focus brilliantly, though, and  it was a superb concert – possibly the best quartet playing I’ve heard live.’


  • Julian Rowlands says:

    This incident is of a piece with the cancelling of Israeli ensembles at last year’s Edinburgh festival and of performances by Gilad Atzmon at RNCM and in Nottingham this year. Activists on both extremes of the Israel/Palestine “debate” are allowed to censor our culture.

    It is now time for the MU and ISM to demand that concert promoters take effective action against this cultural vandalism, and protect the livelihoods of performers as well as freedom of artistic expression.

    • SVM says:

      Indeed — in my view, “effective action” should include more rigorous training for stewards. I am often startled by just how ineffective stewards can be at restoring order in a whole range of circumstances, from a child being disruptive to a deliberate heckling. Most irksome is many stewards’ failure of judgement on the admission of latecomers — too many second-movements are disrupted by the arrival of such people who should have been made to wait until the applause at the end of the work (if you are a steward reading this, I beg you to consider implementing this very simple rule, if not for the sake of art, then at the very least for the sake of the majority of the people whose tickets pay for your wages: only admit latecomers at times when protracted applause is taking place *and* being acknowledged by the performers).

      On the rare occasions that I have been late for a concert, I have almost always had to explain to the steward explicitly why it was not appropriate for him/her to let me in at a pause between movements, to much bemusement on their part, to the extent that (I must confess) on a couple of occasions, I accepted the invitation to enter, but only after my having taken off my coat and bag in advance, and occupied the second available seat (so as to leave the first for the next latecomer) instead of trying to find my own seat. I would also like to see stewards physically confiscate mobile telephones from those audience-members who are manifestly and visibly using them inappropriately during the concert.

      • Julian Rowlands says:

        Coincidentally the last time I complained about latecomers being admitted between movements was at a performance by the Jerusalem Quartet; it was explained to me that it was the quartet’s choice to admit people between movements, but the usher had opened the door too early, before the last chord had been beautifully tailed off into silence.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The bizarre question is how a string quartet, of all people, could possibly carry any responsibility for political decisions of their home country, which is – by all means – not a matter of choice but of random circumstance. It is different from the Gergiev/Putin question where the artist has made clear statements.

  • James says:

    It was obvious there was going to be a disruption. There always is from these cultural morons who hate Israel. The QEH should have had better security, to pull them out as soon as they started to shout. The end will be that no Israeli cultural group wants to come to the UK – which of course is what the haters want. But that would be a sad loss.

    • Anonne says:

      Is it what they want? How then would they find a profile venue to spew their rubbish?

      Gross under-training at this hall, by the sound of things.

  • Ari says:

    Politics and political opinions aside, how different is the disruption of a concert where music and art are being created and expressed, from the barbaric smashing of ancient archeological relics by ISIS ?? There should be some sort of international charter against ANY such acts of violence. If these people want to make a stand for their opinions, let them go to Hyde Park corner, or protest outside the Israeli Embassy. Freedom of speech is no more important than freedom of artistic expression.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    More useful idiots.

  • Alexander says:

    Actually, I went to a Jerusalem Quartet concert at the QEH a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t interrupted at any point. The security on that occasion was effective, including bag searches. Given that they managed to get it right last time I’m not sure how they managed to allow this to happen on this occasion.

  • Tommo says:

    The pro-Palestinian thugs that follow Israeli performers round the UK disrupting concerts at every venue are treated as though they have rights that are superior to concert goers. These benefit scroungers seem to be above the law when it comes to taking their hate campaign inside the hall. Police should be made aware that these acts of political activism are contrary to public order when taken to this level and rate payers should demand that lazy politically correct police do something about it.

  • Tim Walton says:

    These demonstrators show just how stupid they are.

    Both violinists in the Quartet were born in the Ukraine, the Viola player in the USA & the cellist was born in Minsk!

  • James says:

    At every event that is likely to be disrupted there must be security who pull out the protestors quickly and forcibly and hand them over to waiting police who then charge them with aggravated trespass – and the venue must be willing to bring or at least back the charge.

    At the moment disruption is costless for the disrupters. They must be made to pay a price – of a criminal record.

  • James says:

    Did you attend this concert or know someone who did?

    Do you want to help stop similar disruptions in the future?

    Then please contact info@uklfi.com (UK Lawyers for Israel).