Talk about hitting a sour note.
The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra’s eight-city American concert tour that was slated to begin Aug. 20 has been canceled, but the reason why remains unclear.
Some reports quoted orchestra officials in Israel as saying that no security firm could be found to protect the orchestra and its patrons for fear of a terrorist attack. Other reports attributed the cancellation to the orchestra’s inability to find an insurance company willing to provide coverage because of what was called "terrorist problems."
But Suzanne Ponsot, executive director of the American Friends of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, said the real reason was that one of the four promoters of the tour, Clear Channel Entertainment, had not sold enough tickets. She said Clear Channel Entertainment was handling the tour in San Francisco, Cleveland, Chicago and Denver and that there had been a "weak" customer response in what she termed "non-traditional classical venues."
But Ponsot said she believes Clear Channel Entertainment acted "a little bit prematurely … because ticket sales in the last two weeks usually sell out."
A spokeswoman for Clear Channel Entertainment had no comment.
Ponsot said the other three promoters were prepared to go ahead with the tour but could not bear the production costs without Clear Channel Entertainment’s participation. The Israeli Philharmonic consists of 110 musicians and accompanying personnel.
"There were no security issues and no lack of insurance," Ponsot insisted. "There was one insurance company that said it had doubts about being able to provide insurance, but I know the orchestra is insurable."
She added that when news accounts of the cancellation cited the inability to get insurance, her office received offers to provide coverage from several insurance companies. And she noted that the orchestra has its own security.
"The cancellation is extremely unfortunate," Ponsot said. "We were looking forward to the orchestra coming back at a time when we could use its message of peace and harmony and understanding, which comes through their musical performances."
The orchestra, which had performed in New York at the beginning of the year, is scheduled to return to New York in January. It will be playing in Sydney, Australia, on Sept. 1.