Valery Gergiev, a Putin supporter, will not act in Carnegie Hall

The Carnegie Hall and Vienna Philharmonic announced Thursday that Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, a friend and prominent supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will not lead a series of concerts there this week amid growing international condemnation of Putin’s invasion. Ukraine.

Mr. Gergiev, who was due to perform the Philharmonic Orchestra in three high-profile appearances in the hall starting Friday night, has come under increasing scrutiny for his support for Mr Putin, whom he has known for three decades and has repeatedly defended. .

No reason was given for his removal from the programmes. But the extraordinary last-minute decision to replace the star maestro due to his ties to Mr. Putin – just days after the Philharmonic chairman insist on That Gergiev’s emergence as an artist rather than a politician reflected the rapidly growing global outcry over the conquest.

While Mr. Gergiev has not spoken publicly about the uncovered attack, he has supported Mr. Putin’s previous moves against Ukraine, and his appearance at the Carnegie was expected to spark vociferous protests. He was the target of similar demonstrations during previous demonstrations in New York amid criticism of Mr. Putin Law prohibiting “advertising of non-traditional sexual relations,Which was seen as an attempt to suppress the gay rights movement in Russia, and his movement annexation of Crimea.

Carnegie and the orchestra also said that Russian pianist Denis Matsuev, who was due to perform with Mr. Gergiev and the orchestra on Friday, will not appear. Mr. Matsuev is also Putin’s aide; In 2014, he expressed his support for the annexation of Crimea.

Gergiev will replace Mr. Gergiev at the three Carnegie concerts, who on Monday leads a new production of Verdi’s “Don Carlos” at the Metropolitan Opera, where he is musical director. A replacement for Mr. Matsuev was not immediately announced.

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Both Carnegie Hall and the Vienna Philharmonic have previously defended Mr. Gergiev. But Putin’s announcement of the start of a “special military operation” in Ukraine on Thursday put new pressure on the auditorium and orchestra to reconsider.

Activists started the hashtag #CancelGergiev on Twitter and posted photos of Mr. Gergiev alongside Mr. Putin. The two have known each other since the early 1990s, when Putin was in charge in Saint Petersburg and Mr. Gergiev had begun his tenure as leader of the Kirov (later Mariinsky) Theater there.

In 2012, Mr. Gergiev appeared in a television advertisement for Putin’s third presidential campaign. In 2014, he signed a petition praising the annexation of Crimea, after the Russian Ministry of Culture named Senior artists and intellectuals to suggest their support for this step. “Ukraine is for us an essential part of our cultural space, in which we grew up and in which we have lived until now,” a state newspaper quoted Mr. Gergiev as saying at the time.

In 2016, Mr. Gergiev Drove A patriotic concert in the Syrian city of Palmyra, shortly after the Russian air strikes that helped drive Islamic State out of the city. On Russian television, the concert included videos of the Islamic State’s atrocities, part of a propaganda effort to boost pride in Russia’s military role abroad, including its support for the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Putin was seen thanking the musicians via a video link from his Black Sea vacation home.

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In recent days, Mr. Gergiev has also been under pressure in Europe, where he maintains a busy touring schedule. Milan officials said Thursday that he must condemn the invasion or face the possibility of his engagements with the Teatro alla Scala, where he led Tchaikovsky’s opera “Queen of Spades,” be rescinded, according to Italian media reports.

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra recently said a few days ago that Mr. Gergiev was a talented artist and would go up on the podium on Carnegie dates. “He’s an instrumentalist, not a politician,” Daniel Froschauer, the head of the orchestra, said in an interview Sunday with the New York Times.

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Clive Gillinson, Carnegie’s chief executive and technical director, had also earlier offered his support for Mr. Gergiev, saying he should not be punished for expressing his political views.

“Why should artists be the only people in the world who are not allowed to have political opinions?” Mr. Gillinson said in an interview with The Times in September. “My point is that you judge people only on their art.”

Activists who were planning to protest Mr. Gergiev’s appearance at Carnegie rejoiced at the news of his withdrawal. “The arts should be against aggression,” said Valentina Bardakova, a math and science teacher in New York who has been helping to organize the protests.

Mr. Gergiev is due to return to Carnegie in May to lead two performances with the Mariinsky Orchestra. It is not clear if these performances will go as planned.

Mr. Gergiev has appeared frequently with the Vienna Philharmonic in recent months, in Austria and abroad. He recently tested positive for the coronavirus and had to cancel some shows, including one with the Philharmonic last week. He has since recovered and returned to acting, including the “Queen of Spades” show in Milan on Wednesday night.

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