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Performance by Maestro With Russian Ties Is Canceled in Vienna

Performance by Maestro With Russian Ties Is Canceled in Vienna


When the Wiener Festwochen, a prestigious pageant that brings main worldwide artists to Vienna, introduced this spring’s lineup, the backlash was swift and fierce.

The pageant had deliberate to make the Russian invasion of Ukraine a spotlight of its programming, juxtaposing an look by the Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv with a live performance by the maestro Teodor Currentzis, who has confronted scrutiny over his connections to Russia. Critics, together with Lyniv, had argued that the pairing was insensitive and ignored the struggling of Ukrainians.

Now, after weeks of stress, the pageant has deserted its plan, saying that it could cancel the looks by Currentzis whereas shifting ahead with the one by Lyniv.

“The choice was clear and there was no different,” Milo Rau, the pageant’s inventive director, mentioned in an interview on Tuesday. “This was the very best resolution from dangerous ones.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, many cultural organizations have severed ties with shut associates of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and the federal government there. Some establishments have been criticized for overreach after canceling performances by Russian artists with no identified connections to the federal government. Others have grappled with methods to deal with artists who had much less clear-cut allegiances.

Currentzis, a Greek-born, Russian-trained maestro whose management of the Russian ensemble MusicAeterna turned him into one of many world’s most distinguished conductors, has been on the middle of the dialogue due to his relationship with VTB Bank, a Russian state-owned establishment that has been below sanctions by the United States and different nations. VTB Bank was the principle sponsor of MusicAeterna. Currentzis has additionally drawn scrutiny for his affiliation with Russian officers: In 2014, Putin awarded Currentzis citizenship by presidential decree.

Currentzis has avoided publicly commenting on the conflict. But as criticism has mounted, he introduced in 2022 that he would kind a brand new worldwide ensemble, Utopia, with the assist of donors outdoors Russia. He continues to conduct in Russia, in accordance with MusicAeterna’s web site.

His look in Vienna was to be a part of a tour in June with the SWR Symphony Orchestra of Germany, which he leads as chief conductor, performing Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem.” He was to look with the Vienna Boys’ Choir and the London Symphony Chorus.

Representatives for Currentzis didn’t reply to requests for remark. Anke Mai, the SWR program director, mentioned in a press release that she regretted the Wiener Festwochen’s choice to cancel the efficiency. She mentioned the orchestra had by no means requested Currentzis to make a press release on the conflict “in view of the implications that such a press release would have for Currentzis in Russia.” She added that she believed Currentzis and the orchestra have been “sending a message that can’t be misunderstood” by selecting to carry out the “War Requiem,” which is a name for peace.

“All these concerned would have preferred to deliver this message to Vienna,” Mai mentioned. “Nevertheless, we settle for the choice of the Wiener Festwochen and hope to satisfy once more in additional peaceable occasions.”

Rau, the pageant’s inventive director, who has a repute as a provocative stage director, mentioned he had invited Currentzis to carry out partially as a result of he was within the thought of beginning a dialog about artwork in wartime. Lyniv was additionally invited to guide the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and the National Choir of Ukraine in a efficiency of the Ukrainian composer Yevhen Stankovych’s oratorio “Kaddish Requiem,” written to recollect the 1941 bloodbath of Jews close to Kyiv by Nazis.

Rau mentioned he was troubled by Currentzis’s ties to Russian establishments. But he mentioned he felt he had created a context during which he might seem.

“We determined this may be a pleasant factor to attempt to have this change,” he mentioned. “It was very intentional to say that we wish to have one thing that’s troublesome and that’s questionable.”

Soon after the plans have been introduced, Lyniv issued a press release in protest, saying that she nervous about “whitewashing” Currentzis.

“I can’t be accountable to the just about 150 musicians who’re touring to Vienna from the conflict in Ukraine to be put in the identical context as Teodor Currentzis,” she mentioned in a press release on the time. “Currentzis’s connections to Russia and his silence on this conflict of aggression towards my homeland make it inconceivable for me to look in a context with him in the intervening time.”

Lyniv, who’s in New York this month making ready to conduct “Turandot” on the Metropolitan Opera, mentioned she was happy by the pageant’s choice however declined to remark additional.

As he looked for an answer, Rau spoke in current days with artists and directors. He mentioned that he had acquired greater than 50 messages about his choice to cancel the efficiency by Currentzis, a lot of them important.

“The pageant is large; we’ve got 35 productions,” he mentioned. “But on this particular case I failed, and I’m unhappy about it. But I’ve failed so many occasions. It’s a part of the job.”

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