Amsterdam Music Hall Restores Israeli Concert With ‘Tightened’ Security Following Outcry Over ‘Shameful’ Cancellation

Amsterdam Music Hall Restores Israeli Concert With ‘Tightened’ Security Following Outcry Over ‘Shameful’ Cancellation

Shiryn Ghermezian

The Jerusalem Quartet. Photo: Felix Broede

Amsterdam’s famed music hall the Concertgebouw has reversed its decision from earlier this week to cancel performances by the Israeli group Jerusalem Quartet amid concerns about anti-Israel protests taking place at the venue and around the city.

The Jerusalem Quartet was originally scheduled to perform at the Concertgebouw on Thursday and Saturday. The first show was cancelled, but Saturday’s show will take place inside the venue’s Recital Hall with “tightened security measures, adjusted visitor flow, and an adjusted start time,” the concert hall announced on Thursday. The in-person concert is sold out but will be available via livestream on the Concertgebouw’s website.

“The earlier decision to reschedule the planned concerts has been met with understanding as well as disapproval,” the Concertgebouw acknowledged, after organizers were called “cowards” and accused of capitulating to “bullying and terrorism” for its “shameful” decision on Tuesday to cancel performances by the Jerusalem Quartet.

“Every concert must be able to go ahead,” said the venue’s General Manager, Simon Reinink. “The Concertgebouw fully supports its mission to connect and enrich everyone with sublime music, regardless of background, religion, culture, or any distinction. We must continue to stand up for the free society we want to be. Every day.”

The Concertgebouw originally cancelled the Jerusalem Quartet’s two concerts because it said it could not guarantee the safety of the venue’s employees, visitors, and musicians while multiple anti-Israel demonstrations were set to take place in the area. Reinink said social media users also urged the public to demonstrate at the Concertgebouw and the music hall received “a flood of messages” from people who opposed the Jerusalem Quartet’s appearance at the venue, likely due to the Israel-Hamas war.

On Thursday, the venue further elaborated on its original decision to cancel the shows.

“A particular factor was that concerts were scheduled simultaneously in the Main Hall and Recital Hall; with so many visitors, the security situation could have become precarious if disturbances had occurred,” said the Concertgebouw. “The recent demonstrations in and around the University of Amsterdam were the direct and only reason to take this decision. The Concertgebouw felt the risk was too great. This decision was taken solely on the basis of our concerns for the safety of all those involved. With the extra security measures now in place, and changes to the start time and visitor flow, we are able to let the concert on May 18 go ahead.”

The Jerusalem Quartet shared news about the restoration of Saturday’s concert on its Instagram page, and thanked “all the people who supported us and helped make this happen.” They also commented on the original cancellation of their shows, saying that “due to violence in the streets, and threats to the Concertgebouw, ours were the only concerts cancelled, which evokes memories of darker times for Jewish artists in Europe.”

“Our quartet has a decades-long relationship with Concertgebouw, and we have a loyal and committed audience in The Netherlands,” added the string quartet, which is comprised of two violinists, a cellist and a violist. “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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