British classical musicians orchestrate defense of Russian composers
The announcement followed the announcement of the withdrawal of Anna Netrebko, the Russian soprano, from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Alexander Malofeev, a Russian pianist, has been banned from several concerts in Canada.
Mr Pemberton said no political statements should be needed in the arts, adding: “We are just not comfortable putting people at risk by forcing them to publicly denounce what the regime of Putin did.
“We know the risk of speaking out now. You get 15 years in prison just for calling the war a war. If they still want to express themselves, we will support them.
However, he said that Russian works such as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture should have their historical context explained to the public, and advised that the Ukrainian national anthem be played before concerts by ABO members.
Voices in Russia have also spoken of the universal value of art in times of war, with Natalya Poklonskaya, deputy director of the foreign aid agency Rossotrudnichestvo, calling on Western nations to “keep common sense”.
She said: “What is happening in Ukraine is horrible. But what does Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Rimsky-Korsakov and their belonging to the Russian people and culture have to do with it? How will removing their names from the story affect this?
“Russian ballet, Russian classical music, Russian literature – this is Russia’s historical contribution to world culture.”
“Continue to work with creatives opposed to Putin”
It came as Arts Council England urged cultural organizations to sever their ties with the Russian state by canceling performances, exhibitions and art loan deals.
The body advised taking these steps to remove links to “Russian or Belarusian state-sponsored and/or funded organizations”, and asked museums and galleries to assess their past donations for links to these. States.
However, cultural institutions have been told they should seek legal advice before taking steps to terminate the contracts of those with ties to Russia.
Arts Council England has urged those in the art world to continue working with creators who oppose Putin’s regime.