When the Wiener Festwochen, a prestigious competition that brings main worldwide artists to Vienna, introduced this spring’s lineup, the backlash was swift and fierce.

The competition had deliberate to make the Russian invasion of Ukraine a spotlight of its programming, juxtaposing an look by the Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv with a live performance by the maestro Teodor Currentzis, who has faced scrutiny over his connections to Russia. Critics, together with Lyniv, had argued that the pairing was insensitive and ignored the struggling of Ukrainians.

Now, after weeks of strain, the competition has deserted its plan, saying that it would cancel the looks by Currentzis whereas transferring ahead with the one by Lyniv.

“The choice was clear and there was no different,” Milo Rau, the competition’s inventive director, stated in an interview on Tuesday. “This was the perfect resolution from dangerous ones.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, many cultural organizations have severed ties with shut associates of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and the federal government there. Some establishments have been criticized for overreach after canceling performances by Russian artists with no identified connections to the federal government. Others have grappled with find out how to deal with artists who had much less clear-cut allegiances.

Currentzis, a Greek-born, Russian-trained maestro whose management of the Russian ensemble MusicAeterna turned him into one of many world’s most outstanding conductors, has been on the middle of the dialogue due to his relationship with VTB Bank, a Russian state-owned institution that has been under sanctions by america and different nations. VTB Financial institution was the primary sponsor of MusicAeterna. Currentzis has additionally drawn scrutiny for his affiliation with Russian officers: In 2014, Putin awarded Currentzis citizenship by presidential decree.

Currentzis has kept away from publicly commenting on the conflict. However as criticism has mounted, he announced in 2022 that he would kind a brand new worldwide ensemble, Utopia, with the assist of donors exterior Russia. He continues to conduct in Russia, in accordance with MusicAeterna’s website.

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

Representatives for Currentzis didn’t reply to requests for remark. Anke Mai, the SWR program director, stated in an announcement that she regretted the Wiener Festwochen’s resolution to cancel the efficiency. She stated the orchestra had by no means requested Currentzis to make an announcement on the conflict “in view of the results that such an announcement would have for Currentzis in Russia.” She added that she believed Currentzis and the orchestra have been “sending a message that can not be misunderstood” by selecting to carry out the “Battle Requiem,” which is a name for peace.

“All these concerned would have appreciated to deliver this message to Vienna,” Mai stated. “Nonetheless, we settle for the choice of the Wiener Festwochen and hope to fulfill once more in additional peaceable instances.”

Rau, the competition’s inventive director, who has a reputation as a provocative stage director, stated he had invited Currentzis to perform partially as a result of he was within the concept of beginning a dialog about artwork in wartime. Lyniv was additionally invited to guide the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and the Nationwide Choir of Ukraine in a performance of the Ukrainian composer Yevhen Stankovych’s oratorio “Kaddish Requiem,” written to recollect the 1941 massacre of Jews near Kyiv by Nazis.

Rau stated he was troubled by Currentzis’s ties to Russian establishments. However he stated he felt he had created a context wherein he might seem.

“We determined this could be a pleasant factor to attempt to have this alternate,” he stated. “It was very intentional to say that we need to have one thing that’s tough and that’s questionable.”

Quickly after the plans have been introduced, Lyniv issued an announcement in protest, saying that she nervous about “whitewashing” Currentzis.

“I can’t be accountable to the just about 150 musicians who’re touring to Vienna from the conflict in Ukraine to be put in the identical context as Teodor Currentzis,” she stated in an announcement on the time. “Currentzis’s connections to Russia and his silence on this conflict of aggression towards my homeland make it unattainable for me to look in a context with him in the meanwhile.”

Lyniv, who’s in New York this month making ready to conduct “Turandot” on the Metropolitan Opera, stated she was happy by the competition’s resolution however declined to remark additional.

As he looked for an answer, Rau spoke in current days with artists and directors. He stated that he had acquired greater than 50 messages about his resolution to cancel the efficiency by Currentzis, a lot of them important.

“The competition is massive; now we have 35 productions,” he stated. “However on this particular case I failed, and I’m unhappy about it. However I’ve failed so many instances. It’s a part of the job.”


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