Update: Two London concert halls cancel tonight’s shows

Update: Two London concert halls cancel tonight’s shows


norman lebrecht

March 22, 2017

The attack on Westminster Bridge has prompted the South Bank Centre to call off all today’s performances, including the London Philharmonic concert at the RFH.

At least one person has died, others are seriously injured.

We also hear that St John’s Smith Square has decided to close as police are advising the public to avoid the area. Tonight’s Classical Opera performance of Mozart’s first staged work – The First Commandment – has regrettably been cancelled.


  • Mark Pemberton says:

    Important to stress the Southbank Centre didn’t have any choice about this. As their website says, “We have been advised by security services to close Southbank Centre following the incident at Westminster”.

  • PaulD says:

    Any chance of Simon Rattle or Daniel Barenboim doing a special concert for the victims and their families?

    • Alexander Davidson says:

      Out of curiosity, why Rattle/Barenboim specifically? To the best of my knowledge, neither currently holds any appointment in London, nor lives in London. Perhaps Antonio Pappano and Mitsuko Uchida, for example, would be more likely.

      • PaulD says:

        I was being sarcastic, in view of the conductors’ concerts for migrants in Germany while not doing something similar for recent victims of terrorists, such as those in France and Germany.

        • Holly Golightly says:


        • Will Duffay says:

          Very poor taste. Disappointing.

        • Alexander Davidson says:

          Yes, I suspected that sarcasm was involved, but wanted to make certain.

        • David Osborne says:

          Despicable, vile, idiotic comment on every level.

          • M2N2K says:

            Yours definitely is.
            When something is being done for those lucky people who managed to arrive and receive acceptance exactly where they wanted to be, then it is only sensible and reasonable to suggest that at least the same or perhaps even more should be done for innocent victims of terror who definitely did not choose for their loved ones to be killed or for themselves to be seriously injured.

  • V.Lind says:

    Condolences to all affected directly by this attack, and to Londoners for what they will be feeling and enduring at this time.

    • Holly Golightly says:

      All of it entirely predictable.

      • CDH says:

        That does not make it any less tragic for a lot of people. I find the lack of empathy, and the skewed priorities, on this page absolutely disgusting. Yes, music has all sorts of beneficial effects, yes, life must go on, but for God’s sake let people bury their dead and see to their injured loved ones before looking to disappointments over missed evenings and jibes at artists whose charitable efforts you disagree with.

        And you, Lulamae, are, as usual, the worst.

      • Alexander Davidson says:

        What was predictable? That a 52-year-old English teacher from Kent, a convert to Islam who lived in Birmingham with his wife and children, would become a “soldier” of the so-called “Islamic State” and murder three people, including a police officer who was murdered within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster? I honestly could not have predicted that.

  • Alexander Davidson says:

    There is shockingly little security at London’s classical music venues. The only venue that carries out routine bag searches is the Royal Opera House, and those are so cursory as to be pointless. I have often been waved through with no search being carried out at all. The same goes for places such as the National Gallery and British Museum, where bag searches are supposed to take place, but, in my experience, security guards will wave some people through (I find myself waved through more often than not). The only occasions on which I’ve had any kind of checks when going to the Southbank Centre have been when a senior member of the royal family has been present and, on one occasion, when the Jerusalem Quartet was giving a concert (perhaps to compensate for the lax security when the Israel Philharmonic appeared at the Proms a short time earlier).

    One reason why this surprises me is that I’d imagine that classical music venues would be particularly vulnerable. For one thing, the extreme version of Islam that is behind many terrorist incidents considers all music to be haram. For another, classical music is one of the greatest achievements of western civilization and surely, therefore, an important symbolic target. When I read the news that a painting had been damaged in the National Gallery over the weekend I actually assumed that it would turn out to be an Islamist attack on a religious work or a nude. In fact, the motive seems to remain unknown, but Islamism (or any kind of terrorism) was certainly not involved.

    I don’t enjoy tighter security, as it tends to make life more complicated and less pleasant, but after the Bataclan atrocity I do find myself sitting in a concert hall or an opera house and wondering what I’d do if gunfire were to break out.

  • Ian Page says:

    I feel so sad & disappointed that our show at SJSS last night was not allowed to go ahead – sad for everyone who had tickets & still wanted to come; sad for our amazing team of c.40 people who worked so hard for weeks & weeks on such a happy & worthwhile project which was due to culminate last night; and sad to be deprived of the chance to show our defiance and, more importantly, our support & sympathy for all those who lost loved ones through yesterday’s atrocious events in Westminster. Live music & drama is an act of camaraderie, solidarity & love. This feels like a defeat.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    There are always queues at the British Museum whilst visitors have their bags searched in a specially erected tent . Members are usually waved through. The RFH and Barbican do not allow large bags in their auditoria and ask patrons to deposit them in the cloakrooms. Frankly I’ve never understood why people cart such large bags/rucksacks around particularly to the theatre.

    • Alexander Davidson says:

      You are right about the ban on large bags, at least as far as the Barbican is concerned: I am a frequent visitor to the Southbank Centre and any ban on large bags is unclear at best. However, (a) the ban is not universally observed: I have definitely seen bags larger than “32cm L x 18cm W x 22cm H” inside the Barbican Hall as recently as earlier this year, and (b) even a small bag is capable of concealing a weapon or device capable of inflicting considerable damage (e.g. a pistol or knife). A TT pistol, which we know has been used by terrorists in recent attacks, is about the same size as an average hardback book or about twice the size of an average spectacle case. Only a fairly thorough search would reveal a weapon of that small size.

      Another weak point is coats. There is no requirement at any UK concert hall that I know of that coats must be left in the cloakroom. I have discovered in continental Europe that some halls require patrons to leave coats in the cloakroom and will refuse admission to anybody wearing or carrying a coat. This is probably sensible. A vz. 58 (a kind of assault rifle which was used in the Paris attacks) measures only 63.5 cm with folded stock and therefore could be concealed in a long coat.

      Furthermore, we are talking only about taking weapons or other devices into the hall itself. There is no security at all to enter the building.

      As for the BM, yes, those tents do exist. Whenever I have passed through them the checks have been at best cursory. Coats are not inspected, only bags. Within the last year a friend and I were waved through. We are not members. I actually made as if to open my bag, but the security guard just waved us through. When I mentioned this to my friend he said it was probably because “we don’t look like terrorists”. If this is true, it is worrying. Surely no terrorist is stupid enough to look like a terrorist, i.e. to conform to a stereotypical idea of what an Islamist looks like. There have also been black and white converts to Islam who have become terrorists and therefore bear no physical resemblance to anybody’s stereotype of what a terrorist looks like.

      I do not like to sound alarmist, but we cannot overlook the fact that security measures at concert halls, opera houses, theatres, cinemas, museums, etc, where they exist at all, are clearly insufficient to detect small, or even large, weapons or devices.