Orchestra Makes a Little Too Much Noise

WASHINGTON -- Newly sober and "very well-behaved," about 100 members of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic boarded a flight for Los Angeles on Tuesday, resuming a trip that United Airlines representatives said was postponed Monday after the musicians became rowdy in-flight from Amsterdam and were ordered off the plane at Dulles International Airport.

"We reaccommodated them on a flight today with clear expectations of the behavior we expect to see on that flight," said Susana Leyva, a United spokeswoman in Chicago. "From the folks who checked them in today, I hear they were incredibly well-behaved. . . . I understand everyone was very mum."

Officials said it was a dramatic change of behavior from Monday night when the Russian musicians became drunk and disorderly during the first leg of their eight-hour transatlantic flight.

Despite reprimands and warnings from the flight crew, many of the musicians refused to sit down, talked loudly and threw objects around the cabin, officials said.

After making a scheduled landing at Dulles, the group was again instructed in the rules of conduct, but United officials felt the instructions were being ignored and made the decision to remove the entire group from the flight.

"They were unresponsive," Leyva said, adding that during her three years with United, "there have been other incidents of disruption, but not of a group this size."

Without passage to Los Angeles, officials said, the musicians' luggage was removed from the plane and they were left to find overnight lodging at their own expense.

A call Tuesday to ICM Artists, the New York firm that organizes tours for the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, was not returned.

The orchestra was en route to Los Angeles to perform a program of 20th-century Russian music scheduled for Wednesday night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Since 1988, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic has been led by conductor Yury Temirkanov, who is also the music director for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The St. Petersburg Philharmonic is scheduled to perform March 10 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall with pianist Yefim Bronfman and March 11 at Baltimore's Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

The St. Petersburg Philharmonic, formed in 1882, is Russia's oldest symphony orchestra. Known for many years as the Leningrad Philharmonic and revered for its close ties with composer Dmitry Shostakovich, the group changed its name in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The ensemble frequently visits major European festivals and toured the United States in 1996 and 1998.