In Washington DC, don’t mention the war

In Washington DC, don’t mention the war


norman lebrecht

February 27, 2022

Across the western world, from Chicago to London to Tel Aviv, conductors like Riccardo Muti and Zubin Mehta began their weekend concerts with remarks condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Not, however, in the capital of the USA, where music director Gianandrea Noseda failed to say a word about the situation in Ukraine.

Noseda was Valery Gergiev’s Principal Guest Conductor at the Mariinsky from 1997 to 2007. He is also music director of the Tsinandali Festival in Georgia. One can understand him being ambivalent about the present situation.

But audience members were furious. One messaged us: ‘It’s mind blowing and outrageous! The National Symphony Orchestra. The Kennedy Center. And they are silent as if nothing is going on!’


This is Zubin in Tel Aviv:




  • James Read says:

    Good for him. I don’t want a facile lecture when I go to a concert (about Black Lives Matter, Ukraine, or anything else).

  • Alexander says:

    apparently somebody had forgotten to tell to Mr.Noseda to do so before that somebody went to Delaware ( to think over how it is going with some pre-planned actions somewhere)
    …. from the other hand I hope you, Norman, paid much attention to Serbian musicians too, when Belgrade ( Nicola Tesla motherland by the way) were bombing by brave European aircrafts ( French were among others there and American of course ). I bet you did …. and to Odessa people, when some music lovers ( among others) were burnt down by Ukrainian nazis not so long ago. And on many classical Russian speaking musicians who fled Ukraine for the past few years only because they speak Russian ( more than a 75 percent of modern Ukraine still speak Russian)….
    PS instead of sparkling anti-Russian hysteria here I prefer to do something for peace all over the Globe every day now and keep peace inside of my soul. What demon are you praying for ? I wish you well , and Old Granny Liz the second too ( some say she is dead now)…..

  • Thomas M. says:

    Guess it’s about time to separate the wheat from the chaff, conscience-wise.

  • A.L. says:

    If Zubin Mehta truly means it, he, along with the theater’s administration, will see to it that Netrebko is removed from the Turandots he is slated to conduct at the Staatsoper Berlin this summer. Otherwise, it’s just potato chips. To make it easy on him, these are the considerations: 1. Netrebko’s years-long support of the criminal Putin; 2. Netrebko’s years-long support of the Russian separatist movement in eastern Ukraine; and, last but not least, 3. Netrebko’s well-documented progressive vocal decline. Put those three together and BAM!, a nobrainer.

  • Monty Earleman says:

    I don’t remember any US or UK conductors speechifying when the US did the same thing, using many of the same lies to justify it, to Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Nik_f says:

    Putins coward and servant!!!

  • Hal Hobbs says:

    I miss the days when classical music concerts, live theatre, and most arts events were about the art and less about social studies.

  • MacroV says:

    I was at the NSO on Saturday night, and it’s true Noseda didn’t say anything. But the NSO isn’t drawing particularly well these days and the whole concert, while well played, lacked much of a sense of event or occasion (which is kind of true for almost any concert at the mausoleum that is the Kennedy Center). I think any statement would have been kind of perfunctory.

    That said, they did a beautiful Mahler 4 and it felt all the more poignant given the events of recent days, certainly for me and the depression I’ve been feeling about it.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      I was at Sunday’s concert and Noseda said that he’s deeply disturbed about what is happening in Ukraine, but believes that Mahler’s music is better than any words – something along these lines.

  • M McGrath says:

    This is getting out of hand. Ghastly! Maybe it’s time for all musicians to just shut up and play! And the for us to stop expecting little PC blurbs from artists about this war and that other great cause. Silence is golden. Just listen to Zubin’s line… it is so great: he regrets those “being unnecessarily killed.”

  • Harpist says:

    Fire him. Better talent around. Not that I am the muster of everything, by far not, but I am listening to classic since I was maybe 15 so that s a few decades of exposure to classical conductors.
    This guy? Never heard of.