Performance by maestro with Russian ties is canceled in Vienna

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Monday, May 27, 2024

Performance by maestro with Russian ties is canceled in Vienna
A Teodor Currentzis concert at the Wiener Festwochen was canceled after the Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv, also on the program, raised concerns about his ties to Russia. (James Hill/The New York Times)

by Javier C. Hernández

NEW YORK, NY.- When the Wiener Festwochen, a prestigious festival that brings leading international artists to Vienna, announced this spring’s lineup, the backlash was swift and fierce.

The festival had planned to make the Russian invasion of Ukraine a focus of its programming, juxtaposing an appearance by Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv with a concert by maestro Teodor Currentzis, who has faced scrutiny over his connections to Russia. Critics, including Lyniv, had argued that the pairing was insensitive and ignored the suffering of Ukrainians.

Now, after weeks of pressure, the festival has abandoned its plan, saying that it would cancel the appearance by Currentzis while moving forward with the one by Lyniv.

“The decision was clear and there was no alternative,” Milo Rau, the festival’s artistic director, said in an interview on Tuesday. “This was the best solution from bad ones.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, many cultural organizations have severed ties with close associates of President Vladimir Putin of Russia and his government. Some institutions have been criticized for overreach after canceling performances by Russian artists with no known connections to the government. Others have grappled with how to handle artists who had less clear-cut allegiances.

Currentzis, a Greek-born, Russian-trained maestro whose leadership of the Russian ensemble MusicAeterna turned him into one of the world’s most prominent conductors, has been at the center of the discussion because of his relationship with VTB Bank, a Russian state-owned institution that has been under sanctions by the United States and other countries. VTB Bank was the main sponsor of MusicAeterna. Currentzis has also drawn scrutiny for his association with Russian officials. In 2014, Putin awarded Currentzis citizenship by presidential decree.

Currentzis has refrained from publicly commenting on the war. But as criticism has mounted, he announced in 2022 that he would form a new international ensemble, Utopia, with the support of donors outside Russia. He continues to conduct in Russia, according to MusicAeterna’s website.

His appearance in Vienna was to be part of a tour in June with the SWR Symphony Orchestra of Germany, which he leads as chief conductor, performing Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem.” He was to appear with the Vienna Boys’ Choir and the London Symphony Chorus.

Representatives for Currentzis did not respond to requests for comment. Anke Mai, the SWR program director, said in a statement that she regretted the Wiener Festwochen’s decision to cancel the performance. She said the orchestra had never asked Currentzis to make a statement on the war “in view of the consequences that such a statement would have for Currentzis in Russia.” She added that she believed Currentzis and the orchestra were “sending a message that cannot be misunderstood” by choosing to perform the “War Requiem,” which is a call for peace.

“All those involved would have liked to bring this message to Vienna,” Mai said. “Nevertheless, we accept the decision of the Wiener Festwochen and hope to meet again in more peaceful times.”

Rau, the festival’s artistic director, who has a reputation as a provocative stage director, said he had invited Currentzis to perform in part because he was interested in the idea of starting a conversation about art in wartime. Lyniv was also invited to lead the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and the National Choir of Ukraine in a performance of Ukrainian composer Yevhen Stankovych’s oratorio “Kaddish Requiem,” written to remember the 1941 massacre of Jews near Kyiv by Nazis.

Rau said he was troubled by Currentzis’ ties to Russian institutions. But he said he felt he had created a context in which he could appear.

“We decided this would be a nice thing to try to have this exchange,” he said. “It was very intentional to say that we want to have something that is difficult and that is questionable.”

Soon after the plans were announced, Lyniv issued a statement in protest, saying that she worried about “whitewashing” Currentzis.

“I cannot be responsible to the almost 150 musicians who are traveling to Vienna from the war in Ukraine to be put in the same context as Teodor Currentzis,” she said in a statement at the time. “Currentzis’ connections to Russia and his silence on this war of aggression against my homeland make it impossible for me to appear in a context with him at the moment.”

Lyniv, who is in New York this month preparing to conduct “Turandot” at the Metropolitan Opera, said she was pleased by the festival’s decision but declined to comment further.

As he searched for a solution, Rau spoke in recent days with artists and administrators. He said that he had received more than 50 messages about his decision to cancel the performance by Currentzis, many of them critical.

“The festival is big; we have 35 productions,” he said. “But in this specific case I failed, and I’m sad about it. But I’ve failed so many times. It’s part of the job.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Today's News

February 17, 2024

5 presidential libraries that offer culture, history and 'Labs of Democracy'

Art in multiples, back at the Armory

Automobilia and petroliana collectors can fill 'er up at Morphy's Feb. 24-25 auction in Las Vegas

'Re-Enchantment' group show at Thaddaeus Ropac explores ways of re–enchanting the world

Peabody Essex Museum elects new Board Chair, Jennifer M. Borggaard

Paintings by Maud Lewis & Joe Norris to be offered by Miller & Miller Auctions

$25 million gift to support the Art Institute of Chicago

How John Travolta became the star of carnival

First major museum presentation to celebrate the work and legacy of Nancy Elizabeth Prophet now open

Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College presents first museum survey of work by artist René Treviño

Fusion of art and nature in the jewelry creations of renowned designer Adam Neeley

Canonical history of portraiture and silhouettes invoked in 'The Illuminated Body' by Barbara Earl Thomas

Surreal blend of dreams and daily life converge in paintings and works on paper by Karla Diaz

New, exclusive exhibition examines relationship between people and place at Columbia Museum of Art

Group exhibition featuring Middle Eastern female artists 'Boundless/Binding' at Subliminal Projects

Art Deco artist Enrique Alférez's sculpture 'Lovers' featured in first solo exhibition at Octavia Art Gallery

Jeffrey Wright: Hiding in plain sight in our favorite characters

Performance by maestro with Russian ties is canceled in Vienna

Jean Butler choreographs the past and future of Irish dance

'The Vince Staples Show' is part art house, part 'Home Improvement'

Meet Flagboy Giz, a rapper uniting New Orleans cultural traditions

SF Ballet receives historic $60 million gift, largest ever for the organization

Robert C. Davidson Jr. appointed Chair of the Smithsonian American Art Museum Commission

The antiques collection of Harold & Joeleen Passow of Iowa will be sold by Woody Auction

'Izzard Hamlet New York' review: A solo show that's more noble than wise

How Needs to Hire a Crane?

Florerias Santiago and Florerias CDMX: A Floral Exploration

Avoid These Apostille Mistakes: 8 Common Errors

Attracting More Candidates: Enhancing Your Job Postings Effectively

Replace Lost Volume in The Face With Fillers and Botox

TEMU Affiliate Program 2024: Earn Up to $100,000 a month!

How to Find the Perfect Wheel Repair Shop Near Me

Trekking in Nepal: A Beginner's Guide to Exploring the Majestic Himalayas

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit
Truck Accident Attorneys
Accident Attorneys

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful