Now Carnegie Hall bans Gergiev long term

Now Carnegie Hall bans Gergiev long term


norman lebrecht

February 26, 2022

The Hall has cancelled Gergiev’s visit with the Mariinsky Orchestra in May ‘due to recent world events as well as ongoing challenges related to the global COVID-19 pandemic’.

In effect, he is persona non grata in America.

The hall’s president Clive Gillinson has a longstanding friendship with Gergiev. It was Gillinson who, in his previous job, signed Gergiev to be principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Here’s the change of tune:

Carnegie Hall announced today that its upcoming performances by the Mariinsky Orchestra, led by Valery Gergiev—scheduled for Tuesday, May 3 and Wednesday, May 4—have been cancelled due to recent world events as well as ongoing challenges related to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

These concerts will not be rescheduled.


  • James Weiss says:

    This is being driven by large donors and board members. Gillinson has no choice.

  • Nydo says:

    Carnegie Hall has cancelled the two Mariinsky concerts; this does not amount to Gergiev being banned from America. Let’s make that call when Gergiev is actually banned from America by some official entity.

    • John kelly says:

      Never being invited is the same thing as a ban. No ban necessary

      • guest says:

        @John That “never” is a mouthful, just three days after the ball got rolling. Let’s talk again at Gergiev’s funeral.

    • EagleArts says:

      Where else in the USA does he regularly conduct? IMO he does not have a large presence with US orchestras. Alberto Vilar was promoting he and the Mariinsky in the US years ago, and we know how that all ended…….

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The angry Russian bear will not be moved by whatever happens to Valery Gergiev. Or any musician or performer.

  • GMH says:

    What a foolish and incorrect conclusion you have drawn from this. Perhaps this is partially political, but it is likely primarily Covid related. Foreign citizens can not currently enter the United States unless they are vaccinated with a US-approved vaccine, such as Pfizer, Moderna or J&J. None of these vaccines are available in Russia. In order to possess valid travel status to for the US, the Mariinsky would have to vaccinate the entire orchestra by flying them all to another country – and then flying them back there three weeks later to get their second shot. This is why the Mariinsky Ballet’s annual tour to the Kennedy Center was cancelled this April. It wasn’t feasible to do that for the entire ballet company. Russia’s Sputnik V is an excellent, highly effective vaccine (look up the peer-reviewed article in The Lancet if you don’t believe me), but it’s still not been approved in most western countries and is no good for entry into the US.

    • guest says:

      Speaking of foolish and incorrect conclusions, have you read the Carnegie Hall statement? No? Too lazy? Go to the Carnegie Hall official site, click on “About”, scroll down to the bottom of the page, click on “Press center”, and in the list of announcements click on “Carnegie Hall Performances by Mariinsky Orchestra with Valery Gergiev on May 3 & 4 are Cancelled.” And what do you read there? “… have been cancelled due to recent world events as well as ongoing challenges related to the global COVID-19 pandemic”, which is verbatim reproduced in this SD post. So what are you ranting against? You and NL are in perfect agreement. NL’s original contribution is the “persona non grata in America” bit (typical NL hyperbole), but you are not ranting against that, you are ranting about vaccines.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      What a foolish statement. If the cancellation had been Covid related, the decision would have been made long ago.

      • NC says:

        Agreed. So why did he have to mention it? And he only mentions Covid relative to the May engagement, right? That makes no sense at all.

    • Stephen Lawrence says:

      Good point, and it would seem a very good idea to approve the Russian vaccine since it would allow people to leave the country… however I do feel we need people with principle to stay in Russia to try and save it…

  • John says:

    This may be an unpopular opinion, but to me the effective canceling of Gergiev seems more like a displaced anger at the Russian war machine than a statement of any practical use and I don’t think anyone outside rarified classical music circles will take much notice, nor will it have any bearing on the outcome of events. The music world has simply lost a few Gergiev concerts.

    There’s an element of hypocrisy too: how many American or British conductors were banned after the invasion of Iraq?
    Cancel culture reveals the uncomfortable truth that in the end what gets canceled is a matter of mob self-regulated morality. Yes, I am in deeply disturbed by this invasion but I would not silence an artist for his alleged political views. He’s just a conductor.

    There is another factor as well. If any of you have seen the footage of Putin dealing with his quaking Foreign Intelligence Minister you will understand that Russian politics is still very far away from our Western notions of free speech. Many Soviet artists in the past had to tow the party line and were deeply uncomfortable but did so simply to have their voices heard and their families safe.
    I wonder how many of today’s armchair activists would look Putin in the eye and publicly denounce him.

    • sonicsinfonia says:

      The difference is that Ukraine is a democratic nation. Iraq was closer to Russia, a dictarorship, led by a dangerous power hungry tyrant which had already invaded a neighbouring independent state.

    • Mr. Bentley says:

      Ha! Shostakovich he is not. Stop apologizing for the enemies of the West.

    • guest says:

      A few things:

      1. Take it easy with that hypocrisy. How many American or British conductors do you know who have openly supported an invasion?

      2. Gergiev isn’t “just a conductor.” Netrebko is arguably just an opera singer, but Gergiev isn’t just a conductor. He is overall director of a huge company, the Mariinsky. In a country where the state subsidizes (and controls) the arts, such a position is always the result of political connections to the people in power. He has become by far the most powerful figure in the Russian arts. He also holds a few _chief_ conductor jobs in the West, in countries where performing arts are also subsidized. Gergiev is up to his neck in politics. Running a company always gets in the way of artistic pursuits.

      3. I have seen that video. I do not expect Gergiev to denounce Putin. Gergiev’s fortunes have always been, and will always be with Putin. Putin made him what he is today, and Putin doesn’t take kindly to defectors. BUT Gergiev wasn’t made against his will what he is today, he had coveted the position he holds today, and he did what was necessary to get it. Let’s not victimize him because he isn’t a victim of anything.

      I agree Gergiev’s canceling will not have any bearing on the outcome of events. I don’t agree it is displaced anger at the Russian war machine. Have you followed in the news the negotiations preceding the invasion? If you have, you would know Putin was told Russia will have to face sanctions if he invades the Ukraine. All this cancelling is part of the sanctions. There are economic sanctions as well – freezing of bank assets and the like, which are much more powerful. In my opinion, not even this kind of sanctions will have any bearing on the outcome of events.

    • Peter says:

      This is a wrong-headed view for so many reasons.

      It is absurd to suggest that the only people and organisations who ought to express political views are those who are in a position to directly change the political situation. Nobody needs a licence to make a personal or organisational decision that they won’t be associated with people who choose to publicly air their support for heinous people and actions.

      And regarding the public nature of Gergiev’s views: you are evidently ignorant about Gergiev’s actual track record, as evidenced by the fact that you (a) make an off-base analogy to American or British conductors, (b) refer to Gergiev’s support for Russia’s violations as mere “alleged political views”, and (c) bizarrely imply that Gergiev might be nervously “towing the party line” just to keep his family safe. None of these things holds up if you know even the slightest thing about Gergiev.

      Gergiev is not some fearful, “quaking” functionary. He is a known Putin sycophant who has gone out of his way to endorse not only Putin, but his specific policies in invading other countries. When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 in order to annex Crimea, he voluntarily put his name to a jingoistic open letter in which he proudly and “firmly” declared his support for the invasion: Nobody forced him, or Denis Matsuev, to do so. The vast majority of other internationally prominent Russian artists, whatever positions they hold, have had no difficulty resisting the temptation.

      It’s really tiresome to see these interminable screeds about “cancel culture” and how the treatment of Gergiev is oh-so-unfair, composed by people who have not taken literally two minutes to perform a simple Google search or read any random news article about Gergiev’s politics.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      How many “American or British conductors” were public close friends of George Bush or Tony Blair and explicitly endorse the Iraq war? None that I know of – as opposed to Gergiev who is one of Putin’s closest associates and openly supported the attack on Crimea, repression of LGBT people, attacks on Pussy Riot etc. etc. etc.

  • ABQ says:

    You reap what you sow

  • Fenway says:

    One less toothpick to worry about in Carnegie Hall.

  • Diane Fanizza says:

    Don’t ever underestimate Valery Gergiev

  • BigSir says:

    Politicizing the arts is shameful.

  • Marvolos says:

    Great Great Great! Hope others will follow. Must show solidarity with Ukraine and stand for freedom and peace.

  • Cyril Ignatius Kendrick says:

    No, Gergiev is not “persona non grata” in America. He may be this to whomever made this decision without offering any concrete explanation. But we love him, and will seek out his music wherever he goes.

  • Stop Putin says:

    We protested at every Gergiev’s concert in NY for eight years. Now his concerts are finally being cancelled everywhere, but, gee, the world is blind…

  • Stormcon says:

    You mean the same Gergiev that was hired by Carnegie Hall to conduct their National Youth Orchestra in 2014, after Putin invaded Crimea? Don’t remember any cancellations back then. Maybe he just became a Putin sympathizer in the past couple years? Stop the phony outrage.

  • Nick says:

    Long overdue for both, Gergiev and Matsuev!

  • Against Russian Aggression says:

    Good. I hope all concert promoters follow suit…

  • Paola Galeati says:

    Mi sembra ,posso sbagliare,che il. pretendere un ‘abiura politica ci metta sullo stesso piano di Putin e dei regimi con le stesse idee.

  • VBMaestra says:

    Carnegie Hall needs to book Vanessa Benelli Mosell as a guest conductor.