Matthew Loden, who became the CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) on July 16, has pledged to continue the orchestra’s commitment of showcasing Israeli and other international artists, despite facing pushback from pro-Palestinian groups for taking another orchestra on a tour of the Holy Land.
This past season, Loden, who was then the CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra, saw anti-Israel activists protest the orchestra’s cultural trip to Israel in June, to celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary with concerts in Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
On May 19, pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted the orchestra’s performance of Tosca at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, frustrating both the audience and musicians.
“We live in an age where dissent is important. It matters. It should be heard, but the sanctity of the concert hall should be respected,” said Loden prior to the resumption of the concert.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that other protests over the orchestra’s trip to Israel took place over several weeks in May.
The orchestra’s performance in Brussels a few days prior to its trip to Israel was also disrupted for 30 minutes, while security cleared out protesters.
“With an early performance interruption, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s journey at times was newsworthy. It was also a timely and powerful effort. The packed audiences of diverse music lovers experiencing the unifying power of music, exemplified a critical element of the institution’s mission,” said Loden.
“During the visit, the musicians participated in a variety of activities that connected us with Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel, where we heard about their own personal desires for peace.”
Among the many highlights that Loden cited on the trip included music classes with students at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music and a joint concert involving members of both the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Loden noted that the TSO’s 2017 tour to Israel was a major highlight for the organization.
“The TSO’s tour of Israel was a great success and a high point in the orchestra’s cultural exchange program. The visit included groups of TSO musicians to Save A Child’s Heart, as well as a inspired chamber music performance at Yad Vashem,” he said.
Loden also cited the many Israeli artists who have collaborated with the TSO, including Yefim Bronfman, Itzhak Perlman and Maxim Vengerov. The upcoming 2018-19 season will feature Israeli violinist Pinchas Zukerman and Israeli pianist Shai Wosner.
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