Dalia Stasevska: I never tried to influence the Proms

Dalia Stasevska: I never tried to influence the Proms


norman lebrecht

August 27, 2020

The conductor has issued a statement, denying BBC leaks that she demanded the removal of Rule, Britannia.

Here it is:
‘I am so honoured to be part of this year’s BBC Proms and its iconic Last Night.

‘I understand its prominence in the UK classical music calendar and wider cultural landscape. It is incredibly exciting to be part of an event with such long standing tradition.

‘It is testament to the unfailing work and commitment of the organisers that the Proms can proceed at all this year.

‘However, in recent days there has been a good deal of inaccurate speculation about my role in determining the format of this year’s Last Night of the Proms.

‘This false speculation has led to abuse and threats towards me and my family which is why I am speaking out.

‘For the record I have played no role in deciding the traditional elements of the programme, I recognise these are an important part of the event.

‘I’ve been wrongly portrayed as a person who tries to influence political debates – this is not true. I am an artist, I want to be able to speak through my work to bring people together and build solidarity.’

So if it wasn’t Dalia, who at the BBC demanded the muting of the anthem? If the BBC wants to protect its conductor, as it claims, it must name the guilty party in order to put her totally in the clear.



  • Mvarc says:

    Her PR/agent may well pronounce that Ms Stasevska “played no role in deciding the traditional elements of the programme“, but it seems inconceivable that, as the conductor of the concert, she or at least her “people” was/were not involved in detailed discussions about all the pieces she was going to conduct – learn and rehearse – in only 2 weeks. It would seem that not much other than the Sibelius Impromptu is likely to be something she has conducted before. If she has agreed to conduct new non-verbal versions of the controversial pieces, she has implicitly agreed with the BBC’s decisions and she must accept criticism from those who disagree with the changes.

    • Geoff says:

      No, it’s simple, she explicitly said “This false speculation has led to abuse and threats towards me and my family which is why I am speaking out. For the record, I have played no role in deciding the traditional elements of the programme, I recognise these are an important part of the event.” (Stasevska on The Guardian)

      Why are you trying so hard to find something else that’s clearly not there? You also say “she must accept criticism”, so does that also include accepting threats against her family? Because uninformed comments like yours put more fuel in to this ridiculous fire.

  • Treenooo says:

    She can happily “not play Rule Britannia” back in Finland.

  • Tammo says:

    Literally not a single person with any shred of intelligence would think that she demanded the removal of those tunes.

    • marcus says:

      how would you know that? Are you psychic?

    • Allen says:

      Trying to shore up an argument by claiming to have intelligence on your side is a shoddy technique. If the intelligence of an argument is not self evident, it is probably absent in the first place.

      She might not have “demanded” as such, but it is perfectly feasible that she was consulted about what she was expected to conduct.

  • True North says:

    I have strong doubts this conductor would have tried to make substantive changes to the program. The Last Night of the Proms is a bit like the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day concert, where the guest conductor shows up, does all the traditional things that are expected while probably often not really knowing or caring why, and then accepts the paycheque and moves on.

    As this conductor is not British but rather Ukrainian/Finnish, I think it’s quite plausible that any political implications of the pieces in question may not even have occurred to her. They certainly didn’t to me. Why would she come in with an agenda like that? Something isn’t right here.

    • V. Lind says:

      Someone wrote here that the DM or some other rag “put the words in her mouth.” She was never quoted in anything I read.

      And the BBC has already said that she was not the decision-maker. If she sat in on conversations about doing it instrumentally this year, she may have agreed. Given the letter from the BBC musician posted a little earlier, one can conjure up images of what the wokerati were talking about, and how they were talking.

    • Patricia says:

      Why was she asked to conduct the Proms last
      night in the first place? Is there a dearth of British conductors?

      • Mikko says:

        The last night of the Proms is typically conducted by the chief conductor of the BBC Symphony. Sakari Oramo, a Finn, has held the position since 2013. Stasevska is a principal guest conductor with the orchestra. Her nationality may not be an accident.

  • Buster says:

    Although she says, “I have played no role in deciding the traditional elements of the programme,” and that those elements are important, she never states her view about Rule Brittania. It could be that she made her views known without “deciding” whether it would be on the program or not.

  • Jonathon says:

    Perhaps you should take some responsibility for this situation, as your initial post concerning her supposed desire to change the programme was nothing more than a repost of an earlier Daily Mail article on the matter. That article was bog standard DM hackery, and offered no substantial proof as to her opinions about Rule Britannia etc. yet based on it you determined that it was ‘now down to Proms chief David Pickard and Radio 3 controller Alan Davey to decide whether they stand up to her, or cave in.’ You added fuel to the Daily Mail’s fire, instead of stopping to question the article itself. Did you try to find the initial source that had made the claims to verify them? Maybe there was no ‘source’ in the first place, or for all we know, it could have been you, after all, you’ve since gained plenty of air time out of the situation. Quite frankly the whole thing stinks, and only serves to confirm the sad, desperate state of journalism in the UK.

  • GCMP says:

    She could always withdraw, if the BBC is trying to make her do something she didn’t agree to. By not withdrawing, she is complicit with BBC management. Doesn’t matter if she was the instigator or not.

  • RW2013 says:

    The scandal remains – how did she get the gig?
    Doesn’t the yUK have enough third-rate conductresses of it’s own?

  • Wesley says:

    The lady dost protest too much, methinks.

  • kundry says:

    Really, who cares about her involvement? If she was involved – bad move from “her people”. If she wasn’t – what is new at the BBC? Bottom line – she is a mediocre conductor and could not get anywhere near a decent podium if we would not live in these PC/woke/ whatever the brew of the moment times. I am watching and listening to the Kleiber/Karajan/Bernstein videos instead – it is another planet! Hope some day we will get back to it. The orchestra musicians are getting better and better – the conductors worse by the day – thanks to the politicizing of the job.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The cock crowed three times.

    • V. Lind says:

      Oh, for God’s sake. Whether she was involved or not, it’s a matter of controversial lyrics, not the betrayal of Christ. I thought you were a Catholic. Haul ass to your nearest confessional for uncharitable thoughts (though if you confessed to those, you’d never have time to visit here).

    • John Rook says:

      Fiver to anyone who understands that analogy these days…

  • Herbie G says:

    I believe that a Freedom of Information request might reveal whose decision it was. Until then, given the very plausible arguments presented above, the conductor’s personal disclaimer and the absence of any word from the BBC, we would be entitled to assume that this was done with the full acquiesence of, if not the under the orders of, Tony Hall, and I should be surprised if David Pickard, Director of the Proms, was not involved.
    I was amused to see a raddled, embarrassed-looking and arrogant Tony on the ropes, evading the questions in a BBC interview – a pathetic, disingenuous performance worthy of winning the Chris Grayling Award for Sophistry. See for yourself: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/headlines/53901878/tony-hall-backs-orchestral-rule-britannia
    Tony’s forthcoming departure was announced ages ago so why is he taking so long about it? With this latest debacle, he should resign immediately and take his acolyte Alan Davey with him. Tony already has a peerage so he won’t be without a place to sleep when his job ends – and I wouldn’t mind if Al got one too if that would speed his journey to oblivion.
    I’d be naive to expect their successors to change anything for the better though – I guess it will be the usual thing – ex-civil-service ‘suits’ to whom the BBC is a plaything on which to perform cultural vivesection.

  • Herr BBC says:

    The way the BBC is ending up they should only play Deutschlandlied.

    Their kind will eat it up!

  • ahoisaho says:

    Can she conduct, too ?

  • M McAlpine says:

    It is incomprehensible on an evening celebrating British music making that the BBC choose foreign conductors or at least someone with no real track record with British traditions. For goodness sake, as Beecham once said, haven’t we enough second-rate British conductors without importing them from abroad?

    • Player says:

      The actual quotation is: “Why do we have to have all these third-rate foreign conductors around, when we have so many second-rate ones of our own?”

      • M McAlpine says:

        In context Beecham’s barb was actually originally aimed at the brilliant Rafael Kubelik, who was anything but third or even second rate!

    • Althea says:

      Why assume that British conductors are second-rate? And even if they are, perhaps a dearth of sufficient opportunities to develop further is responsible for any lack of flair or technical ability.

      I assume that Beecham exonerated himself, in his stricture.

  • Dr Wayne says:

    What is Sian Edwards doing these days? She is a genuine talent and should certainly be able to conduct the Proms if she is well and willing.
    Otherwise, if the BBC actually needs a foreign conductor to conduct the Last Night, how about an act of detente and ask the Russian Federation to come to their rescue? Check out some of the video concert recordings conducted by Alexander Sladkovsky.

  • Paul Ricchi says:

    Taking her at her word, until proven otherwise, I cannot express how welcome it is to hear these words from a musician. If a musician cannot speak through her music and passion she is acknowledging that she does not measure up artistically:

    “I’ve been wrongly portrayed as a person who tries to influence political debates – this is not true. I am an artist, I want to be able to speak through my work to bring people together and build solidarity.’”

    For you others may I say, less eloquently: “Shut up and make music.”

  • IP says:

    I have never heard of this Delilah, but from her own statement I conclude that she must be a sort of artist.

  • Tom says:

    I feel for this conductor. The BBC have thrown her under the bus and have proved themselves unfit for any purpose. They are merely looking after themselves and their twisted corporation. The BBC management should be utterly ashamed of themselves.

  • Some Guy says:

    Assuming for the moment that’s she’s telling the truth, as the conductor of the Proms, the right thing for her to do is inform the BBC that their idiotic decision will be reversed, or they can find themselves a new conductor.

    If she goes ahead with their anti-British agenda, she should consider herself persona non grata in the UK for the rest of her life.

  • Some Guy says:

    You know, Simon: you might have a leg to stand on if your Corbynista communist pals weren’t making a habit of rioting and hurling abuse at anyone to the right of Josef Stalin. It’s not the right wing of British people who are serving up the violence.

  • Some Guy says:

    She has stated her support for the Burn, Loot, Murder organization, whose leaders in the United States have made their communist beliefs quite plain. The Foreign Office should revoke her visa and expel her from the country immediately, EU be damned.

  • Anthony Mason says:

    The Daily Mailhasn’t finished with her yet. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8665507/Proms-conductors-husband-plays-bass-Hitler-row-rock-band.html Incidentally, her husband seems to be a serious musician and composer; great grandson of Sibelius.

  • william osborne says:

    False accusations.

  • Jonathan says:

    Why is everyone getting so worked up about this? Surely there is nothing going on, it is simply an invented story dreamt up by the Sunday Times to fit two of their own requirements: to fill their pages with an “exclusive” on a quiet news day in August, and to curry favour with their proprietor who is known for business reasons to wish the destruction of the BBC.

    It seems unlikely that top management at the BBC were involved in any decision, any more than they would be for other concert programmes. Surely it was simply pragmatic: in the absence of a choir let alone an audience the usual singalong couldn’t happen. Pomp and Circumstance No 1 was composed without words anyway and is often performed that way; I have heard a story that Henry Wood’s Sea Shanties originally included an instrumental arrangement of Rule Britannia and the sung version is subsequent though I can’t verify that.

  • Karajon says:

    Did somebody post this already?