The man who can't say No

The man who can't say No


norman lebrecht

September 02, 2011

Why has Valery Gergiev agrred to become honorary president of the Edinburgh International Festival?

Here’s his version:

“I can easily celebrate my 20 years with the Edinburgh International Festival, it is a wonderful place to visit,” Gergiev said. “We artists come here with a tremendous sense of responsibility and excitement. I very much hope that the festival continues to thrive and flourish and I am very privileged to be part of its future.”

Hmmmmm…. given that Gergiev barely has time to brush his teeth with all the organisations he’s involved with, why take on Edinburgh now that it’s been eclipsed bit its own fringe and is in danger of falling off the map?

Because he has a soft heart for ladders that he climbed on his way up … and because at times he believes that the mere fact of his faith in a declining institution can save it from extinction.

He may be right, but Edinburgh is no Tchaikovsky Competition that he can bring back from the dead by sheer force of will. The political support in Scotland is negligible and the case for maintaining a festival that presents second-division touring companies is no longer compelling. This may be a Gergiev leap-of-faith too far.