Earlier this week, the Wales-based council of highly regarded non-professional musicians announced the cancellation of a concert of works by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
his reason? There is a feeling that this program is “not appropriate at this time” because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The internet quickly reached for its smelly salts.
Inspired by a passage from BBC Music Magazine – the futile implication that Tchaikovsky is long dead is being dropped along with contemporaries like conductor Valery Gergiev – critics have denounced the Welsh musicians as everything from “racist pure race” to the symbol of “the stupidest and most dangerous moral panic ever witnessed”.
Unfortunately, these moralists didn’t bother to ask the orchestra to explain its reasoning.
If they did, the participants in this competition might have realized that the Cardiff Philharmonic is doing exactly what cultural organizations everywhere should be doing: making tough decisions about events global with nuance and grace.
As the orchestra’s director Martin May explained to me in an email, the tune considered several factors in deciding to cancel the concert.
One is “a member of the orchestra whose family is directly related to the Ukrainian situation”.
One second is whether you feel comfortable playing Slave Marche and 1812 Overture – both celebrating Russia’s military might – as Russia ravaged Ukraine.
The musicians did not want to offend the Ukrainians by playing Tchaikovsky Little Russian symphony, argues that the term has been associated with attempts to deny Ukraine a distinct national identity.
That list is by no means a succinct title, but it conveys goodwill – a quality that has been lacking as people and organizations flocked to gestures in support of Ukraine and against its war. Putin.
When it comes to this culture war, it is necessary to distinguish between acting in the interests and making a real contribution to the cause of Ukraine’s freedom.
The international cultural crackdown on Russia would be more effective if people first stopped to ask two simple questions before jumping into an argument or judging others’ efforts.
First, does the gesture affect the people and institutions it is intended to target?
U.S. governors have tried to get Russian vodka out of state liquor stores, and bar owners have been pouring bottles based on stereotypes rather than state of the alcohol business.
Shunning Stolichnaya vodka, for example, hits Latvian distilleries and a Luxembourg-based consortium that owns the brand, not the Russian industry.
It’s more encouraging to see bars stocked with Ukrainian beers and liquors and customers turning to restaurants like New York City’s Veselka.
At a minimum, such efforts help Ukraine feel more tangible and concrete to Americans, who began to notice the country only after Russia attacked.
In the most hopeful scenario, if Ukraine remains independent and if Americans who left the war appreciate the country’s food and drink, those new enthusiasts could power the tourism industry in the region. future, or provide the impetus for rebuilding efforts.
Second, does a decision distinguish between the Russian government and the Russian people who oppose Putin and his invasion?
Culture war is a long game and winning it requires more than fanfare.
Denying the Russians about a new Pixar movie won’t make them rebel against Putinism.
Pouring out a bottle of Smirnoff will do more for your liver than it is for the Ukrainian people.
But the culture can perpetuate the idea that Russia has more than just Vladimir Putin and Ukraine worth fighting for.
As for the Cardiff Philharmonic, they did not give up Russian music. “We have no plans to change our summer and fall programs,” May wrote, “which includes works by Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev and Rimsky-Korsakof.”
Thank god for that.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/ban-tchaikovsky-theres-more-to-a-culture-war-than-showboating-41437919.html Ban Tchaikovsky? There’s more to a culture war than fanfare