Putin’s bag-carrier is caught in orchestra revolt

Putin’s bag-carrier is caught in orchestra revolt


norman lebrecht

December 11, 2020

Musicians of the St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra have sent a protest to the state governor over the involvement of the cellist Sergei Roldugin in their affairs.

The players have just succeeded in voting out Alexander Titov as artistic director and installing Leif Segerstam as principal guest conductor.

Titov has sought reinstatement through his friend Roldugin, who was named in the Panama Papers as President Putin’s money launderer. The players fear he might be reimposed on them for a third time.

Here’s their letter to the state governor, signed by 53 of the 70 musicians. It has yet to be published in Russian media (but many Russian musicians read Slippedisc.com):

We consider it necessary to inform that, in our opinion, the actions of the former artistic director A.V. Titov are aimed at destroying the reputation of the State Academy of Architecture and Civil Engineering as a professional academic team. They also cast a shadow on the image of St. Petersburg musical culture as a whole, since our collective is one of the few highly professional academic orchestras, the creativity of which is available to all social strata of Petersburgers.

We believe that the steps taken by A.V. Titov devalue the cultural role of the governor…. The insults of the orchestra’s musicians by the former artistic director cannot but humiliate the dignity of the creative person, and they were very painful for us, damaging a healthy atmosphere in the team. Musicians of St. Petersburg GASO do not understand why they must continue to endure gross humiliation from a person who has shown his creative helplessness over the years of working with the orchestra, and ignores creative initiatives in the field of culture, actively carried out by the city leadership and personally by the governor.

We welcome the director’s decision to terminate the contract with A.V. Titov and appoint a new artistic director, I.V. Tomashevsky, and we are delighted with the upcoming collaboration with Chief Guest Conductor Leif Segerstam.

Watch this space.


  • Greg Bottini says:

    Do you know, Norman, if the newly-named artistic director, I. V. Tomashevsky, is any relation to MTT?

    • Greg Bottini says:

      To whoever downvoted me:
      I was just asking a question.
      You obviously don’t know that Michael Tilson Thomas’ forbears (famous on Yiddish and Broadway stages, and as cantors, by the way) were named Thomashefsky.
      Now you can go back down to the basement and resume playing with your toes.