February 1, 2007
Group to picket Israel Philharmonic performances
According to its web site -- www.wib-la.org -- the small organization plans to hold a silent vigil outside the Disney Concert Hall to protest Israel's alleged occupation of Gaza and West Bank and human rights violations.
The group staged one protest on Jan. 14 outside Disney Hall. A photo posted on its web site showed nine women and men holding up signs proclaiming "End Israel Apartheid in Palestine" and "Boycott Israel Philharmonic."
Initially, Women in Black sent a letter to the Israel Philharmonic last October, asking its members to publicly oppose "Israeli apartheid."
Receiving no response, the group's spokeswoman, Carol Smith, sent a letter to the Los Angeles Philharmonic's president Deborah Borda and music director Esa-Pekka Salonen, demanding cancellation of the two concerts.
Borda rejected the demand, writing that "We will never support the silencing of artists from any culture as a means of political action," the Los Angeles Times reported.
As part of its 70th anniversary celebration, the Israel Philharmonic was scheduled to perform Jan. 30 and Feb. 1 in New York's Carnegie Hall and Feb. 4 in San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall, followed by the Los Angeles concerts.
Zubin Mehta and Lorin Maazel will alternate as conductors throughout the American tour.
The Disney Hall underground garage, with more than 2,000 parking spaces, will be closed for the Feb. 5 and 6 concerts for security reasons, officials announced.
-- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor