NEW YORK – The mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter has threatened to remove Valery Gergiev from the post of chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic if Gergiev does not publicly say until Monday that he does not support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra has also said it will abandon a 68-year-old Russian scheduled for the festival in September if he does not stop supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In addition, the Royal Opera House on Friday canceled a planned tour of the Moscow Bolshoi Ballet in London.
Gergiev is close to Putin and supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
“I have clearly stated my position to Valery Gergiev and asked him to clearly and unequivocally distance himself from the brutal invasion that Putin is conducting against Ukraine, and now, in particular, against our sister city of Kyiv,” Reuters said on Thursday. “If Valery Gergiev does not take a clear position by Monday, he can no longer remain the chief conductor of our Philharmonic.”
Gergiev has been Munich’s chief conductor since the 2015-16 season. He was the principal guest conductor in Rotterdam from 1995 to 2008, and the orchestra launched the annual Gergiev Festival in 1996.
“If Valery Gergiev does not openly distance himself from President Putin’s actions in Ukraine, we will be forced to cancel all Valery Gergiev’s concerts, including the Gergiev Festival in September,” the Rotterdam Philharmonic said in a statement. .
He is also the musical director of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg (Russia) and the White Nights Festival.
Mariinsky and Bolshoi are one of the most famous art institutions in Russia.
“The summer season of the Bolshoi Ballet at the Royal Opera House was in the final stages of planning,” the Royal Opera said in a statement. “Unfortunately, in the current circumstances, the season cannot continue.”
The announcement by the mayor of Munich was made the same day that the Vienna Philharmonic fired Gergiev from the post of conductor on a five-concert tour of the United States, which begins at Carnegie Hall on Friday night.
“This change has been made in connection with recent world events,” said Carnegie Hall spokeswoman Sinne Carlina.
Ron Boling, a spokesman for the orchestra, said the Philharmonic would not comment when asked if the decision was made by the orchestra, Gergiev or Carnegie.
Milan’s La Scala Theater also sent a letter to Gergiev on Thursday asking him to make a clear statement in favor of a peaceful settlement in Ukraine, otherwise he would not be allowed to return to complete his engagement to Tchaikovsky’s “Lady of the Spades.”
Milan Mayor Giuseppe Salo, president of La Scala, said the request was made because Gergiev had repeatedly stated his closeness to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
La Scala said on Friday it had not yet received a response.
The last few days on the Internet have promised protests at Carnegie Hall, where Gergiev was to head the Vienna Philharmonic on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as Sunday afternoons. The orchestra then travels to Hayes Hall in Naples, Florida, for performances Tuesday and Wednesday.
The musical director of the Metropolitan Opera Yannick Neze-Segen will replace Gergiev at Carnegie concerts.
Semyon Bychkov, another high-ranking Russian conductor, criticized the Russian government: the 69-year-old musician is the music director of the Czech Philharmonic and was the music director of the Paris Orchestra in 1989-98. He emigrated to the United States in 1975 and has lived in Europe since the 1980s.
“Silence in the face of evil becomes his accomplice and eventually becomes his equal. Russia’s aggression in Ukraine brings us to what my generation hoped would never happen again: war, ”Bychkov said. “We should go crazy calling the collapse of the Soviet Union the greatest tragedy of the 20th century, as Putin described it, and not rejoice because it happened without bloodshed and stopped kidnappings. many nations except Russia itself. “
The music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ricardo Muti, took the rare step of addressing the audience before performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Orchestra Hall on Thursday night.
“What we see on TV is horrible,” Muti said. “And tonight in the final part of the symphony Beethoven, taking the text from Schiller, speaks of joy, joy, joy. But we will think that at that moment there can be no joy without peace. And so I hope that from this magnificent hall – from orchestra, from the choir, from you – all people should receive a message that not only in Ukraine, but also in the world (which) creates violence, hatred and a strange need for war: we are against all this.
This weekend, the Berlin Philharmonic dedicated the performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony to those affected by the invasion.
“Putin’s insidious attack on Ukraine, which violates international law, is a knife in the back of the entire peaceful world,” said chief conductor Kirill Petrenko. “It is also an attack on art that is known to unite all borders. all my Ukrainian colleagues and I can only hope that all the artists together will stand for freedom, sovereignty and against aggression. ”
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