Activists opposed to an oil and natural gas company’s sponsorship of a Colorado orchestra series used a recent concert to protest fracking, according to a local paper.

Before the Boulder Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Mackey Auditorium in Boulder on May 5, activists with East Boulder County United (EBCU), shouted, blew whistles inside the auditorium, and disseminated flyers about fracking. According to the Daily Camera’s coverage, the whistle-blowing led University of Colorado police to send officers to the event.

Photo credit: East Boulder County United

“We aren’t doing this to be disruptive, but to bring awareness that Boulder County is about to be fracked because as of May 1, it’s legal,” EBCU member Kristin McLean told the paper. The latest iteration of Boulder’s five-year-old moratorium on oil and natural gas development expired May 1.

Photo credit: Kristin McLean

Last week, the activist group criticized the orchestra for accepting corporate donations, including from Extraction Oil & Gas, in order to provide free concert tickets for students and families in local school districts, as reported by Western Wire.

“You have certainly hit the wrong note with the communities being poisoned by fracking,” EBCU wrote in a Facebook post. “We are calling upon you to immediately return all money you have taken from this lethal corporation and remove all promotion of them from your publications. Make music, not pollution. We will expect to see these changes prior to the opening stanza.”

The orchestra said the activists’ online harassment led it to take down a Facebook page promoting the concert.

“The Boulder Chamber Orchestra was recently bullied and threatened, as an organization, by activists in the anti-fracking community who posted inappropriate remarks on our Facebook site, which was otherwise promoting our Unity Concert occurring this weekend,” the orchestra’s board of directors told Western Wire. “The activists were using our Facebook page as a bully pulpit for their social media lobbying efforts.”

“We are a small, nonprofit arts organization which promotes classical music in the community, with an emphasis on outreach,” the board continued. “The sponsorship we received from Extraction allowed us to purchase tickets for students and their families in the Boulder Valley School District, St. Vrain Valley School District, and the Jefferson County School District to attend one of the three performances of Beethoven’s 9th Concert.”

“Thus far, we have had tremendous response from the students for these tickets and have been able to provide access to all three venues for this concert,” the board said.

“It is unfortunate that a group of individuals would try to for political reasons, or their own political stance, try to block an orchestra playing for high school students,” Extraction Oil and Gas spokesman Brian Cain told the Daily Camera. “Supporting the organizations that make up the fabric of our community is where we should all find common ground.”

East Boulder County United, which was founded by Cliff Willmeng, is an anti-fracking group that has repeatedly campaigned for bans on oil and natural gas development in the area. In March, Willmeng was reprimanded by Lafayette Mayor Christine Berg for interrupting the city council’s discussions of an anti-fracking ordinance.