Lisitsa latest: She’s in Toronto, determined to perform

Lisitsa latest: She’s in Toronto, determined to perform


norman lebrecht

April 08, 2015

The irrepressible Ukrainian-US pianist has turned up in Toronto, insisting that she will find a space to perform in on Thursday and Friday night, when she should have been appearing with the symphony orchestra.

She told the Globe and Mail today that her agent – Tania Dorn at IMG Artists – had an email from the TSO saying a Ukrainian donor had threatened to pull his funding if the anti-Kiev pianist appeared with the orchestra. The TSO’s boss Jeff Melanson duly fired Lisitsa.

If this email is fully validated, Melanson and the TSO will be disgraced for allowing financial pressure to override their evidently fragile artistic independence.


More from the excellent Globe and Mail here.


  • Mikey says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, I don’t remember you having such virulent words against the Metropolitain Opera regarding Adams’ “Death of Klinghoffer”. Are we sensing a double standard here? Or is it just the usual colonialist pretense toward “the colonies”?

    • norman lebrecht says:

      There is no double standard, ‘Mikey’, except in your imagination. If you want to cast slurs, first shed your anonymity.

      • Mikey says:

        You might start by not casting slurs of your own?
        “Anonymity” is fine, since it is permitted on this blog for those who comment. If you have an issue with that, then surely you can arrange for real names to be compulsory? I can imagine that comments on your blog would drop dramatically however.

        Why don’t I want to use my real name? (although my name IS “mike”) Because who knows when some angry blogger or reader of a blog will decide to look me up and start trying to destroy my career. THAT is why I like my anonymity when posting.

        By the way, there is no need for the “air quotes” around my name in your response. That really is my name, whether you like it or not. I didn’t call you “Norman” Lebrecht, did I?

        But go ahead and keep bashing the TSO, and defending Lisitsa. In the end, it will be you on the wrong side of history, not the TSO and its supporters.

        • Theodore McGuiver says:

          I’d like to go off-topic for a minute and riff on anonymity. Surely what one has to say is of more interest than his or her real name, is it not? I prefer reading intelligent, anonymous comments than some anodine contributions headed by authentic-looking monikers. Those who use the ‘cover’ of anonymity on this site do so for their own particular reasons, not least of which is the one that apparently safeguards the universally-treasured freedom of speech, meaning they feel more comfortable expressing themselves in complete safety (one would hope…) without having to worry about what their (potential) employer(s) might think. In an age where just about anyone can look up your name, find your phone number and even look in the front room of your house on Google, I’m not surprised so many choose this option. Just to add a final point, I’m male, and I call myself Theodore, which is a man’s name. I could have called myself Hilary Slater or Kim Prendergast and no-one would have known for certain if I were male or female.

          If the comments are pants, it doesn’t matter if the names are real or not. The opposite also applies.

          • Theodore McGuiver says:

            …the point about calling myself Hilary or Kim being that, though they may appear genuine, they’d actually be even faker than the one I actually use.

      • MacroV says:

        Actually, he could just search the archive, which doesn’t seem to turn up anything incriminating:

  • Mark Pemberton says:

    Surely there is a contract between TSO and IMG? However much they might not want her to perform, they must be in breach of contract and liable to cough up the fee regardless of whether she performs or not.

    • Max Grimm says:

      There is no breach of contract. While the TSO asked her to stay away and not perform, they did pay Lisitsa her fee nonetheless.

  • Mark Pemberton says:

    Surely there is a contract between TSO and IMG? They must be liable to cough up the fee whether she performs or not.

  • Maria Los says:

    I’m sure Putin has his supporters here in Toronto just like anywhere else. He’s probably corrupting people by throwing money around ( Alesya Batsman). I’m pretty sure he’s backing her. He pays his supporters and his trolls very well….I wish the same was done to Netrebko, Gergiev, etc….

  • Christy says:

    Good. Donors always have a great deal of power. Given the huge amounts of money Putin pays to his “supporters,” possibly including this woman who spews ethnicity-based hate speech regularly, it’s about time Ukraine’s supporters starting stepping up.

    Israeli donors have been doing the same thing for many years.

    • Anon says:

      Of course we can retard to the lowest possible behavior, where everybody does support only his tribe, and reason and humanity are shown the door, but how you can describe this as “good” evades me.

  • burton says:

    VL is not a TSO employee and thus was not ‘fired’. Her appearance was cancelled at management’s discretion as per the contract and she was provided compensation. This business about being fired for her political beliefs is either a misunderstanding or a fudging of the facts. She deliberately and notoriously mucked around in areas that ignited a mini-firestorm in the community (donors included) and TSO withdrew its welcome. Attempting to turn it into a free speech crucible is overblown and just plain confused; it’s much more a simple matter of business judgment. VL is free to exercise her speech today and every day (though to imagine that controversial speech will not affect her career prospects is perhaps naive).

  • Roy Lisker says:

    When the unidentified flying substance hits the fan, its time to run for cover.

  • Tom Rose says:

    Well, I am not afraid of posting under my real name. I do not know what political or other goings-on were behind the decision of the TSO to cancel Ms. Lisitsa’s performance, and if I were interested enough I’d do some proper research and find out the truth. [redacted: abuse]

  • Hilary says:

    If Tchaikovsky were alive he would probably have support the plight of the Ukranians as the finale of his piano concerto No.1 makes extensive use of a Ukranian folksong.