Safety concerns amid recent protest action have been cited as the reason for the cancellation of the concerts on 16 and 18 May


The Jerusalem Quartet © Felix Broede

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The Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Netherlands, has cancelled two upcoming performances by the Jerusalem Quartet. The Concertgebouw released the following statement on its website:

‘To guarantee the safety of our employees, visitors and musicians, The Concertgebouw has chosen to cancel the concerts of the Jerusalem Quartet on May 16 and 18. The Concertgebouw has come to this decision due to announced demonstrations and the recent developments surrounding protests in Amsterdam. Ticket buyers have been informed by email.’

Comprising violinists Alexander Pavlovsky Sergei Bresler, violist Ori Kam, and cellist Kyril Zlotnikov, the quartet were due to perform works by Felix Mendelssohn, Claude Debussy, and Israeli composer Paul Ben-Haim.

The cancellation follows recent unrest in Amsterdam, after pro-Palestinian demonstrations led to the evacuation of the University of Amsterdam multiple times and its closure on 14 and 15 May. The quartet’s performance at the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ was disrupted in January by pro-Palestinian demonstrations, as was a performance by Jewish-Dutch musician Lenny Kuhr on March 26.

A petition has been started to reinstate the Concertgebouw performances, stating that ‘By cancelling these concerts, the management of the Concertgebouw placates a vocal minority who advocate for their cause through intimidation and credible threats of disorder and violence. We need not look very far back into European history to see what happens when people acquiesce to the very behaviours that sow their own downfall. Anything less than permitting the Jerusalem Quartet to continue with its planned performances — and to provide them and the audience of the Concertgebouw with protection and support — amounts to pure moral cowardice’.

The petition has been signed by artists including violinists Alexander Sitkovetsky, Jack Liebeck, and Yuri Zhislin, violists Timothy Ridout and Lars Anders Tomter, and cellists Alisa Weilerstein, Natalie Clein and David Cohen, among others. At time of publication, the petition has gathered over 11,000 signatures.

The Jerusalem Quartet has released the following statement:

’We are shocked and deeply saddened that our performances at the Concertgebouw cannot take place this weekend. Due to violence in the streets, and threats to the Concertgebouw, ours was the only concerts cancelled, which evokes memories of darker times for jewish artists in Europe. We are now in close contact with the Concertgebouw to assure security measures for the future so that this situation never happens again to any artist, and to find the soonest possible available alternate dates. The immense outpouring of support we have received in the past days is overwhelming. Our quartet has had a decades-long relationship with the Concertgebouw, and we have a loyal and committed audience in the Netherlands. We will not allow this bond to be broken and want to assure our audiences that we will continue to perform and share our music with them.’

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