In Digest, Ukraine

Introduction by New Cold War.org, April 8, 2015

Ukraine-born classical pianist Valentina Lisitsa, photo by Andrew Cowie, Getty Images

Ukraine-born classical pianist Valentina Lisitsa, photo by Andrew Cowie, Getty Images

The replacement pianist slated to perform for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra tonight and tomorrow night in place of antiwar pianist Valentina Lisitsa has been accused by Lisitsa’s supporters of profiting from her silencing. Now, Stewart Goodyear is withdrawing from the performance, saying he is being “bullied” by Lisitsa’s supporters.

In writing on Facebook about his decision to withdraw, Goodyear has attacked Lisitsa, accusing her of “hiding behind a pseudonym” on Twitter concerning her expressions of views on the war in eastern Ukraine duirng the past year.

The Calgary Symphony Orchestra says it has no plans to cancel performances by Valentina Lisitsa on June 5, 6. The musician performed at Brock University in Ste. Catherines, Ontario on April 4 (corrected). That’s a one hour drive west of Toronto.

Cara Zwibel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has told the Canadian Press, “I think there is a problem with the message that this sends to artists that they may have trouble getting jobs or keeping jobs if they express views that are unpopular or controversial.”

The tidal wave of commentary attached to the Globe and Mail daily newspaper’s report of the banning of Valentina Lisitsa has reached the number of 696. It is near-to universal in condemning the ban measure.

* * *

Replacement pianist ‘bullied’ into not performing after TSO drops original artist over tweets

By The Canadian Press, published on CBC News website, April 8, 2015

A Canadian pianist scheduled to perform tonight at a Toronto Symphony Orchestra concert after a Ukrainian-born pianist was dropped for tweeting “deeply offensive” comments says he was “bullied” into declining the engagement. In a statement posted on his Facebook fan page, Toronto pianist Stewart Goodyear says he found himself “in the middle of a social media frenzy” with words of “bile and hatred” hurled at him from all sides.

Stewart Goodyear, file photo by John Woods, The Canadian Press

Stewart Goodyear, file photo by John Woods, The Canadian Press

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra initially said Goodyear would play Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 2 on Wednesday and Thursday after Valentina Lisitsa was told she wouldn’t be performing, but announced late Tuesday that the Rachmaninoff piece would not be played at the concerts.

Goodyear says he was accused of supporting censorship and what began as one of the happiest moments of his life turned into a “shattering display of mob hysteria.”

Lisitsa, an ethnic Russian [sic] born in Ukraine who now lives in the United States, said in a Facebook post that she has been accused of “inciting hatred” on Twitter because of her comments on the conflict in Ukraine.

In her post, Lisitsa said she has been speaking out against the “atrocities” of the civil war, particularly those committed against the Russian minority in Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions.

In an interview with RT News, a Russian television network, Lisitsa noted that she always separated music from politics. “Partially I think it was my mistake in a way, because now my tweets have caught up with me,” she told the media outlet.

Goodyear said being asked to perform Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto in Toronto with the orchestra was a dream come true. “Yesterday, my dream was shattered,” he wrote.

“With all due respect to the pianist who I was going to replace … one must own one’s opinions and words, and have the courage to defend her position without hiding behind the pseudonym, ‘NedoUkarinka.’

“Free speech has consequences, and one [must] own one’s position,” added Goodyear. “Dragging other people who have nothing to do with her position does nothing constructive.” Refunds offered to ticketholders

The symphony said ticketholders who attend the concerts to hear Mahler’s Fifth Symphony will receive a free ticket to an upcoming concert, while those who don’t wish to attend can request a refund.

Toronto resident Adir Krafman — who says he’s a fan of Lisitsa’s playing — has already received his refund and says he’s disappointed that the TSO dismissed her for her political comments. Krafman says he hopes Lisitsa will play a promised free concert in Toronto, but she tweeted Tuesday night that she has so far been unable to secure a venue.

Lisitsa is scheduled to play the same piece with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra in June. Heather Slater, the CPP’s director of artistic planning, told CBC News in a written statement that “whether or not one agrees with Ms. Lisitsa’s political views” she is still scheduled to perform as a guest artist. She is scheduled to perform Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6.

Toronto Symphony Orchestra president and CEO Jeff Melanson says Lisitsa was replaced following complaints from “hundreds” of people and after the TSO compiled seven pages of “offensive” Twitter posts. “This is not about free speech, this is not about a political perspective or persuasion, this is about very offensive, intolerant comments about people,” Melanson said.

However, civil rights advocates said the orchestra’s decision is part of a troubling phenomenon that could lead artists to self-censor. “I think there is a problem with the message that this sends to artists that they may have trouble getting jobs or keeping jobs if they express views that are unpopular or controversial,” said Cara Zwibel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Read also:
Controversial comments cost Ukrainian pianist gig with Toronto symphony, The Canadian Press, April 7, 2015

*****

EDITOR’S NOTE: We remind our readers that publication of articles on our site does not mean that we agree with what is written. Our policy is to publish anything which we consider of interest, so as to assist our readers in forming their opinions. Sometimes we even publish articles with which we totally disagree, since we believe it is important for our readers to be informed on as wide a spectrum of views as possible.

Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Start typing and press Enter to search

Translate »