Semyon Bychkov: “Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the lies that are being spread about it must be stopped before the rest of the world finds itself in the middle of another war. We must not remain silent and watch as history repeats itself as in 1956, 1968 and beyond. The bearers of death and destruction must be held accountable and rejected.”
Alexander Melnikov (addressing his piano-recital audience last night): “It’s hard to imagine anyone further away from politics than I am. I also hate all pre-concert speeches. But this morning [February 24] – which I can call the worst morning of my life – I had a knot in my stomach that would prevent me from going on stage unless I can position myself clearly in front of you. Therefore I ask for two minutes of your attention. Our civilization is in bad shape. However, we all have our ‘red lines’. The beginning of a war must be the reddest of all red lines for everyone. Of course, it is normal to say that I or millions of other Russians have nothing to do with this war. True, I haven’t lived there for many years and I definitely never voted for Putin or his party. If anything, I’m furious with them for making me feel guilty about being Russian. A feeling that has been with me for as long as I can remember. But that’s not how things work. I feel responsible for this war. Neither I nor my countrymen have done enough to stop it. It’s happening now that we’re all sitting here in the concert hall. People are dying in a criminal war for no reason. When I look at humanity, I am infinitely sad. Shouldn’t we fear for our very survival? If we don’t survive, we will also lose Bach, Leonardo, Einstein, Newton or Pushkin. I don’t understand why we allow people like Putin or Trump to do this to our civilization.”
Rotterdam Philharmonic: “The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the board of Rotterdam Philharmonic Festivals (organizer of the Gergiev Festival) have learned with dismay of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the event that Valery Gergiev does not openly distance himself from President Putin’s actions in Ukraine, we will be forced to cancel the concerts with him. The Gergiev Festival will also not take place in September.”
Royal Opera House: “A summer season of the Bolshoi Ballet at the Royal Opera House had been in the final stages of planning. Unfortunately, under the current circumstances, the season cannot now go ahead.”
And the Mayor of Milan has told Gergiev that unless he publicly rejects the Ukraine invasion he will not be welcome at La Scala where he has an imminent engagement for a run of Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades.