The pianist Valentina Lisitsa has been highly outspoken in her hatred of the Ukrainian government and her support for Russian intervention. She lives in the US and she likes to play up alleged Fascist and Nazi elements in the Ukraine government and its forces.
She now reports that , in face of protests from local Ukrainian ‘loyalists’, the Toronto Symphony has cancelled her concert and is paying her to stay away.
You may not agree with Val’s politics, but TSO’s action, now confirmed, seems censorious, cowardly and anti-art.
Dear fans, DEAR FRIENDS!
I have a confession to make and a huge favor to ask all of you. I really REALLY need your help now.
But first, my confession.
Over the last year I have been leading a double life. There was me – a “celebrity” pianist hopping from a concert to a concert, all over the world; learning new pieces, meeting fans, recording, chirping about my happiness in upbeat interviews.
But there was another me: not a musician but a regular human being – a daughter, a mother, a wife. And this human being was watching helplessly how the country of my birth, of my childhood, of my first falling in love – this country was sliding ever faster into the abyss. Children die under bombs, old ladies die of starvation, people burned alive…
The worst thing that can happen to any country is fratricide war, people seeing each other, their neighbors as enemies to be eliminated. This is what has befallen my beautiful Ukraine. My heart was bleeding. You all saw on TV screens all over the world a magnificent revolution, the people of Ukraine raising in fury against their corrupt rulers, for a better life. I was so proud of my people! But the ruling class doesn’t let go easily. They managed to cunningly channel away the anger, to direct it to other, often imaginable, enemies – and worse, to turn people upon themselves. Year later, we have the same rich people remaining in power, misery and poverty everywhere, dozens of thousands killed, over a million of refugees.
So, I took to Twitter ( how many of you know I have a Twitter account? LOL) under a name “NedoUkraïnka” – a word roughly meaning “Sub-Ukrainian”, a stab at Ukrainian Prime Minister who called Russian-speaking Southern and Eastern Ukrainians “SUBHUMANS”! Yes, I kid you not. In an official written document. I am a subhuman, my husband, my mom….I mastered Ukrainian language perfectly, far better than a so-called “president” of Ukraine. But I don’t speak it to my family, I didn’t sing lullabies to my son in Ukrainian, when I sleep I never see the dreams in Ukrainian, when I will be dying my last words will NOT be in Ukrainian….
Sorry, I got carried away telling you those things… To get back to my story – I took to Twitter in order to get the other side of the story heard, the one you never see in the mainstream media – the plight of my people, the good and bad things that were happening in Ukraine. I translated news stories from Ukrainian language websites, I translated eyewitness accounts of atrocities…. I became really good in unmasking fakes published by Western media in order to make one side of the civil war look whiter and softer than Easter bunny, and another – as sub-humans, not worthy of mercy, the “collateral damage.
To give you just one example: one of my feats was to confront French fashion magazine “Elle” who published a glowing cover story about women in Ukrainian army. After the research I have shown to the magazine in my Twitter posts that the “cover girl” they have chosen to show was in fact a horrible person, open Neo-Nazi, racist, anti-Semite who boasted of murdering civilians for fun! The magazine issued a written public apology.
I was very proud! But with time my activities attracted a lot of vicious haters. I was a particularly important “target” because of being Ukrainian, thus – a traitor. I thought I knew hate – my playing on YouTube certainly “attracted” a fair share of hate mail. But I was mistaken. Death threats, wishes for my family to die, calling me “paid Kremlin wh*re”…the list goes on and on smile emoticon
My haters didn’t stop there. Trying, in their own words, to teach me a lesson, they have now attempted to silence me as a musician.
I am scheduled to play Rachmaninoff Concerto #2 with Toronto Symphony Orchestra this week. Back in December someone in the orchestra top management, likely after the pressure from a small but aggressive lobby claiming to represent Ukrainian community, has made a decision that I should not be allowed to play. I don’t even know who my accusers are, I am kept in the dark about it. I was accused of “inciting hatred” on Twitter. As the “proof” , ironically enough, they presented to the orchestra my tweets containing, of all things, Charlie Hebdo caricatures depicting lying media!!! We all know what those who can’t tolerate free speech did to Charlie Hebdo journalists.
Now, the orchestra based in one of the freest democratic countries is bending over to the same kind of people, helping them to assassinate me – not as a living person yet , but as a MUSICIAN for sure.
Yes, Toronto Symphony is going TO PAY ME NOT TO PLAY because I exercised the right to free speech.
Yes, they will pay my fee but they are going to announce that I will be unable to play and they already found a substitute.
And they even threatened me against saying anything about the cause of the cancellation. Seriously.
And I thought things like this only happen in Turkey to Fazil Say?
Now, the plea.
Before you decide to help me – If you wish, please take time and read my tweets. You might find some of them offensive – perhaps. The satire and hyperbole are the best literature tools to combat the lies. Bear that in mind when reading.
Here is what I ask you to do for me, and in defense of freedom even if you disagree with me on politics (LOLl!)
I ask you to raise your voice and tell Toronto Symphony that music can’t be silenced.
Ask them to let me play.
If you want to write something – great!
Or just share a photo I made ( sorry, I made it on my phone, nothing fancy)
Ask your friends to join in.
If they do it once, they will do it again and again, until the musicians, artists are intimidated into voluntary censorship. Our future will be bleak if we allow this to happen.
Please stand with me.
Here are the links :
In an outspoken interview with Amit Slonim in Mako magazine, the veteran music director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra shares some grim thoughts about cultural isolation.
His exact words (as published in Hebrew): הבידוד של ישראל בעולם כל כך מדאיג אותי. ישראל מבודדת ברמה היומיומית. אני חושב שישראל כבר איבדה את אירופה. עכשיו היא נמצאת על הקצה של לאבד את אמריקה. אני קורא בעיתונים שהתמיכה בישראל אצל האמריקנים ירדה. חצי מהאמריקנים לא תומכים בישראל. זה לא היה ככה
‘I’m so worried about Israel’s global isolation. It’s happening on a daily basis. I think Israel has already lost Europe. Now it’s on the point of losing America. I read in the papers that support for Israel has declined among Americans. Half of all Americans do not support Israel. It didn’t used to be like that.’
He goes on to say that some musicians won’t come to Israel for political reasons, others due to the low fees paid by the IPO. ‘They have told me this to my face. Some years ago, there was a certain musician who, refusing to appear here, spoke just like Hamas. He said: I won’t come until Israel returns all its territory to the Arabs.’ He was a marvellous conductor.’
Anyone know who it might have been?
UPDATE: A full translation of the interview has now been published here.
Stefan Arzberger, leader of the Leipzig Quartet who was found wandering naked in a New York hotel last week, is determined to prove that he was a victim of crime. He has appealed for €15,000 to help with legal expenses.
As of today, he has raised €9,054 from 104 contributors.
He tells Vienna’s Kurier that the art form is losing social relevance. Most young people consider it elitist and ‘belonging to the past’.
He has a book to plug, but no solutions to offer.
Michael Fabiano stood in last week at the Met on less than seven hours’ notice after Joseph Calleja – the Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor – called in sick.
Fabiano, who caught a train in from Philadelphia, told reporters he had never seen the Met production, let alone rehearsed it. Now he has told the Telegraph newspaper that, unfamiliar with the stage, he suffered a serious accident.
‘I ran off stage and ran into a dark area and hit my head into a light, and really hit the deck,’ he said. Medics had ten minutes to patch him up before he was on again for the tragedy’s climactic scene.
‘I said I had to focus… I had to get ready. I had to think about the last scene, which again I hadn’t done for a year and a half. I needed to take two minutes to think about it.’
There was blood on his face in the closing scene. According to the Telegraph, it can be seen in Ken Howard’s production picture, below.
Is the Met safe enough for singers?
Gianluigi Gelmetti is on his way out of the Orchestre Philhamonique de Monte Carlo. He will be replaced in September 2016 as Principal Conductor and Artistic Director by Kazuki Yamada.
Are we excited? He is: ‘I am thrilled to become the next Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of this wonderful orchestra. Since my debut in 2011, I feel that the orchestra and I have been on quite some journey together already. I look forward to shaping that journey with them even more during my tenure’.
Yamada was 2009 winner of the Besancon International Competition for young conductors.
Agent’s publicity photo by Marco Borggreve
‘It’s boring and music is dead,’ says Brett Mitchell to camera, ‘but I’d appreciate it if you’d help them pay my salary’.
Brett is assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra and outgoing music director of the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra. He was having fun at the local TV station trying to pull in the punters and asked the producer for a reel of his off-the-cuff quips.
Good to see a young conductor with a sense of humour. Go, Brett!
Claudio Prieto, a quiet but influential voice in Spanish music, has died at the age of 84.
A student of Ligeti and Sockhausen at Darmstadt, he won a national prize in 1969 with ‘Solo a solo’ for flute and guitar and went on to compose four symphonies.
Luca Salsi stepped in as Don Carlo in Verdi’s Ernani on Satirday after the Spanish singer failed to overcome a cold.
It sounds quite dramatic. Here’s Associated Press:
NEW YORK (AP) — Luca Salsi was at the corner of Broadway and 72nd Street, taking a walk with his wife, when he got a call from Alvaro Domingo, son of the famous singer.
“Daddy doesn’t feel very well,” Salsi remembered hearing.
Salsi had 30 minutes to make the nine-block trip to the Metropolitan Opera, get in costume and replace Placido Domingo as Don Carlo in Saturday’s performance of Verdi’s “Ernani,” which was broadcast on radio around the world.
Salsi already was scheduled to be on the Met stage that night to sing Enrico in Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor.”
He had a quick telephone chat with Met music director James Levine, whom he had never met, got in costume and went on stage in time for Don Carlo’s first-act entrance.
The 40-year-old baritone from Parma had no chance to review the score….
Salsi had last sung the role in Rome in December 2013 with conductor Riccardo Muti.
“When you do something with maestro Muti, after you will remember very well the score,” Salsi said.
Sal Licata, who was president of EMI Records in the US, from 1987 to 1992, has died from injuries received in a fall. Sal, who was 77, was a label butterfly who moved on every few years. His biggest gift to EMI was the Pretty Woman soundtrack.