Valentina Lisitsa is ‘replaced’ by US orchestra

Valentina Lisitsa is ‘replaced’ by US orchestra


norman lebrecht

April 19, 2022

The Pasadena Symphony put out this statement last night:

‘The Pasadena Symphony has replaced pianist Valentina Lisitsa with internationally renowned pianist Ran Dank for the orchestra’s performance the evening of April 30, 2022.’

Internal messaging reveals that the orchestra was unaware of Lisitsa’s citizenships of Russia and the illegal Dombass breakaway state and hired her based on false information from her manager, who claimed that she held only Ukrainian and US passports, and that since 2015 she was engaged only in music and had not made any political statements.


  • Musician says:

    It’s now a crime to be Russian?
    Meanwhile the US is ok to invade any sovereign country and no one asks Americans to apologise or make statements. The hypocrisy is sickening.
    Obviously I oppose Russias aggression, but it’s repulsive how this is all handled

    • Elisabeth says:

      Being Russian is not a crime, that is why she does not go to prison.
      As a holder of a Russian passport, she is also the one represented by the Russian army in the war.
      She is also an exposed person. When she goes on stage, she represents more than just music. As with any public figure, hiring a soloist or conductor with a particular background, gender, skin colour, etc. is a kind of statement.
      We demand a lot from people in the limelight; they have replaced the old authorities these days.
      You can like it or not but such are the times and the world we live in.

      • DG says:

        Absolutely right, being Russian is not a crime. As for the American equivalency, Valentina’s ‘Donbass passport’ is the equivalent of an American being caught in the Capitol on Jan. 6.

        Trying to overthrow your democratically elected government? Maybe you should go sit in the corner for a while.

        • esfir ross says:

          When VL first came to USA she had USSR passport-there wasn’t Ukrainian passport then. Stop trashing this talented pianist. She’s not a hypocrite nor a chameleon.

          • Paul Carlile says:

            Don’t understand your point about passports. But maybe we’ll stop trashing this mediocrity when she stops trashing the music she attempts to play.

      • Ana says:

        Hiring a soloist with a particular skin colour is a kind of statement??? This is completely wrong kind of thinking, nazi statement.

        • Brettermeier says:

          The statement is:

          Hi! We don’t like pianists here who pose with war criminals.

          PS: Путин— хуйло.

        • rita says:

          Your cheap demagogy will not fool anyone: you know perfectly well why decent people today won’t have anything to do with her.

    • Vadim says:

      Exactly! Are American musicians expected to publicly denounce the US government for its many illegal actions? How about Israeli musicians? This is utter madness

      • James says:

        She is expected to renounce her support, which she previously gave, for Russia’s illegal and cruel invasion of Ukraine. Until then, she does not deserve an audience in any democracy.

      • William Osborne says:

        The USA has killed about 4 million people since WWII in illegal, unjustified wars that have been murderous and brutal. Hypocrites are especially eager to howl whataboutism. And yet, the Russian invasion appalls me. Tubular vision is obviously not the solution, so how do we sort all of this out?

    • Irina says:

      She expressed her support to Putin’s actions. She is not a mere Russian citizen, but active supporter of the war.

    • comment as guest says:

      > Meanwhile the US is ok to invade any sovereign country and no one asks Americans to apologise or make statements

      I don’t remember the US recently invading any peaceful democracies with the intent of stealing large swaths of their territory, let alone doing so with apparent negligible concern for civilian casualties or other forms of collateral damage.

    • MuddyBoots says:

      If not reading the article you are commenting on was a crime, you would already be convicted and imprisoned. As this article and many others on slippedisc have made very very clear, many Russian artists are continuing successful engagements in Europe and the US. It is only supporters of Putin and violent separatists that are losing engagements.

    • rita says:

      It is not a crime to be Russian, but it is a disgrace to be an active supporter of Putin’s genocidal policies.

  • Fliszt says:

    They didn’t know…. Yeah, right… Have they been living under a rock???

  • John says:

    She supported Crimea annexation and Russian occupation of Ukraine.

  • Arts are dead says:

    I have no sympathy to any of sides but it would be so wonderful to read again from your, commentators, few months later, that “we are music fans, we live just for music, music is art that we should take care of and bring it through times..” and etc.
    Again, it’s a human’s nature – sitting on the couch and devour each other on the internet.
    2008 – “oh, I love this recording of Levine so much..”
    2018 – “I hate all recordings by Levine, he’s mediocre”
    2012 – “oh, Netrebko has such a beautiful voice”
    2022 – “thanks God no one will hear her singing again”

    • leonardo says:

      Levine has always been overrated (and finally outed as a lowlife), and Netrebko’s dates are wrong here. Something more akin to: 2002- “oh, Netrebko has such a beautiful voice and is so beautiful” 2012 “what happened to her voice and her looks?” while 2022 seems to be correct.

  • just saying says:

    Thank goodness American artists are not held to the same moral standards as Russian artists.

  • Hans de Bruijn says:

    Her playing skill is not responsibly for the destruction in Ukraine. Her opinion is exercising her freedom to speak and for others to reject or accept. Let’s not reject her virtuosity because her clan leader is a violent dictator.

    • V. Lind says:

      Who had her full support back in 2014 and thereabouts…

      Russian artists have to oppose the invasion of a sovereign country in order to satisfy one tyrant’s goals, not just issue mealy-mouthed platitudes about the unpleasantness of war. A few weeks ago, there may well have been political tensions that date back decades, and perhaps they ought to have been resolved through other methods, such as negotiations or referenda, but because of Putin’s action people are dying, imprisoned and brutally treated, and cities are ruined, countryside laid waste and a nation in desperate straits.

      This requires total denunciation.

  • Genius Repairman says:

    When we look back at the troubled Europe of the 1930s and 40s, we judge many musicians and composers harshly; those who stayed in Nazi regimes and either ignored what was going on around them or actively supported the Government. This includes Orff and Furtwangler, Pfitzner, Richard Strauss and many more. I do wonder how and why some of these greatly talented people could turn a blind eye to the atrocities going on around them. Jewish composers banned, then gassed; violinists, cellists, oboeists… part of their orchestra’s identity, and colleagues, removed and replaced for racial or political reason, taken to concentration and death camps,
    And the orchestra continues to play Beethoven as if nothing had happened.. This Russian war on Ukraine is objectively cruel and brutal regardless of whether one agrees or not that the Russian grievances are more complex than many of us think. Destroying, towns, cities and civilians is not the way to solve problems. Let our musicians learn from the past and stand up against Dictators or be banned.

  • Brent says:

    Was the Pasadena Symphony really so stupid to even make inquiries into Ms. Listisa’s passports or political opinions? If this is true (and this is hard to believe they were this incompetent), their insurance company is at risk of having to pay out massive damages. If Norman actually has real evidence that the Pasadena Symphony did something this stupid, he should release proof and publish the internal messages which he claims to possess. A first year law student would have stopped such an inquiry into Ms. Lisitsa’s passports or national identify dead in its tracks before it made its way on to this blog.

    What does US Federal law have to say about this? Actually it is posted right here for the public to read:

    Issued October 2000 INTRODUCTION
    Federal laws prohibit discrimination based on a person’s national origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex, and familial status. Laws prohibiting national origin discrimination make it illegal to discriminate because of a person’s birthplace, ancestry, culture or language. This means people cannot be denied equal opportunity because they or their family are from another country, because they have a name or accent associated with a national origin group, because they participate in certain customs associated with a national origin group, or because they are married to or associate with people of a certain national origin.”

  • IP says:

    She was engaged in music??? In what role?

  • Tim says:

    Were any Bush or Obama supporting performers required to denounce them for the wars each of them started and multiple countries they helped destroy?

  • Jon says:

    Dumbasses !!!

  • Josephine Gobel says:

    Good. These sneaky japs are everywhere, can’t round em up fast enough. Glad Pasadena did not succumb to the yellow fever.

  • Federico Figueroa says:

    Artists seem to have some sort of moral immunity. They get involved in politics, make statements, take stands and then consider themselves as martyrs. You can’t have it both ways. Let’s not forget that the issue of wanting to crush anything ‘russian’ today has to do with geopolitics, not with music, russian artists etc. It does not only involve Americans, as someone suggested, take a look at what other European countries are doing, and have done in the past.

  • Greg says:

    I’m sure this cancellation will go a long way toward facilitating a resolution to the current situation. Good work, virtue signalers. You’re making an important contribution to world peace…literally, by silencing those with whom you disagree.

  • Sergey says:

    She is in violation of US sanctions and could be prosecuted. People like her are promoters of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine in their limelight. The aggression started eight years ago and now reached its culmination. Thanks for the propaganda soldiers like her.

  • Mark says:

    This is a totally misplaced expression of moral outrage bordering on bigotry. We’re a few steps away from internment camps.

  • Tati says:

    She openly and aggressively spoke against Ukraine. If you read note carefully you ll see how she calls it a conflict. Having her perform would be insulting to millions of Ukrainians suffering from Putin regime

  • AnnaT says:

    The authors of this article have incorrectly spelled Dombass! Do you run any grammar checks before publishing this?

  • William Osborne says:

    Banning Lisitsa will have no effect on the war. Sadly, beating up on Russian artists is a measure of our impotence.

  • Omobono says:

    It takes two seconds of Googling to see that this is not a new issue. In 2015 she spoke out explicitly in support of Russia’s aggression in Donbas and compared the Ukrainian government to Nazis. The Toronto Symphony disinvited her over these remarks. Presumably, hence the manager’s rather cryptic insistence that “since 2015 she was engaged only in music and had not made any political statements.” (Norman really could have helped everyone out here by providing this bare bones context instead of just copy & pasting some press releases). Whatever folks think of the decision itself, can we at least set aside the “is it a crime to be Russian” sensationalism?

  • Denk says:

    I guess Pasadena is supporting Nazis now.

    She did call out the Nazis in Ukraine, there are/were Nazis running Ukraine as well – one simply can look at the Azov Batallion.

    But, most Americans will simply agree with whatever their media channel says and will refuse the actual accounts and opinions of real Russians and Ukrainians, all the while forgetting how much their media lied and took advantage of them the last few years. The bias-confirming ignorance is terrifying in this country.

    We are the real Dombasses here for allowing this and should reverse course, cancel pasadena symphony for their discrimination tactics, and this should become a litigious issue.

  • M. A. DUNN says:

    Sublime social media. Bravo. A picture says a thousand words? When I surfed this site two weeks ago, to plan my 2000 mile trip to Pasedena, it featured a glamour shot of the artist, and now an awkard picture of her mid-sentence in a workshop?? Rotten to the core. Shame on us all. Framers of reality.

  • *itches *rew says:

    This endless hypocrisy, why don’t we ban every American artist and performer since the US has practically shat all over world since the end of WW2.

  • John says:

    It’s just sad. Used to tweet V.L. (who I saw live a in concert at Ravinia.). she tweeted back to me. She was living in North Carolina at the time. The tweets were about music. Also, how her son got a hold of crayons and she was worried about what he would write on her car. Loved the Livestream practice sessions. Came across like a neighbor who happened to be a concert pianist. One day she mentions that her twitter is just going to be for Ukraine discussions. It’s just sad!

  • Brian says:

    She is supporting a terrorist government that is committing war crimes every day. Rocketing apartment buildings? Shoppin malls? The rape of hundreds if not thousands of innocent Ukrainian women?? Sorry, but like her ex-label DG, I “dumped” her. She has some warped ideas between her ears.

  • mackosvira says:

    What a terrible time to live in.
    A genius removed just because someone hates Russians.

    I guess we finally understand what is wrong and rotten in the State of Denmark.

  • TrinkBruder says:

    Isolating the subject of Russia to this pianist reveals a faith in DC that does not coincide with the Constitutional Oath of office and the waning committment of US government to privacy. Why has Edward Snowden been granted asylum in Russia? As a result of bureaucratic indolence and a fixed election process, not the law of this country, the USA. Oath breaking. Same reason the greatest male tennis player in the world cannot play tennis in the USA.
    China is spying on us? The operation of government in the US has been reduced to surveillance and violation of privacy. Violation of the 4th amendment is standard DC policy, not the law of this nation.