In Digest, Ukraine

By New Cold, April 8, 2015

The president and CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Jeffrey Melanson, spoke to CBC Radio One’s As It Happens on April 7, 2015 to defend the orchestra management’s decision to ban Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa from two performances on April 8 and 9. She was to perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2.

Sir Ernest MacMillan conducts the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1947, photo on Wikipedia

Sir Ernest MacMillan conducts the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1947, photo on Wikipedia

The interview can be listened to here, begining at the 7’25” mark. It is preceded by an interview with Lisitsa.

Melanson told CBC, “Of course, free speech and expressing a political opinion is very, very important.”

As It Happens host Carol Off poses aggressive questions to Lisitsa about alleged offensive tweets posted by the musician during the past year. But no questioning or comment is offered about the tweets and other views of Valentina Lisitsa’s detractors in support of the war crimes committed by the Ukrainian government and armed forces in eastern Ukraine during this same time.

In 1952, during the McCarthy era in the United States and at the height of Canada’s participation in the imperialist war against the peoples of Korea and China, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra fired six musicians at the request of the United States government. The musicians were labeled as communists and the U.S. government said it would not allow them to travel to the U.S. for performances with the symphony. The story of the ‘Symphony Six’ can be read here.

The political context of the ban on V. Lisitsa is the intense activism of right-wing nationalist Ukrainian Canadians in support of the war in eastern Ukraine, as well as the dominant ‘group think’ of Canada’s political and media establishment in support of the war. This political context is described in an article by New Cold War editor Roger Annis published on New Cold March 31. 2015 and also published on Counterpunch, Russia Insider and

Read also:
Ukrainian pianist banned by Toronto Symphony Orchestra speaks to,, April 7, 2015


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