Pressed on Putin, the Russian conductor leaves the Bolshoi and the French post office

A prominent Russian conductor said on Sunday he would step down from his duties with two orchestras – at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow a...


A prominent Russian conductor said on Sunday he would step down from his duties with two orchestras – at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and in Toulouse, France – after facing intense pressure to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine by President Vladimir V. Putin.

The conductor, Tugan Sokhiev, had faced demands from French officials to clarify his position on the war ahead of his next appearance with the Orchester National du Capitole de Toulouse later this month. In his statement on Sunday, in which he said he would “always be against any conflict”, Mr Sokhiev said he felt compelled to choose between the two sets.

“I am being asked to choose one cultural tradition over another,” Sokhiev said in the statement. “I am asked to choose one artist over another.”

Both in Toulouse and at the Bolshoi, he writes, he regularly invites Ukrainian artists. “We never even thought about our nationalities,” he wrote. “We loved making music together.”

Mr. Sokhiev’s decision comes during a tense moment in the performing arts, as cultural institutions pressured Russian artists to distance themselves from the war and Mr. Putin. Some artists have been caught in the middle, eager to pursue their international careers but fearful of facing consequences at home for speaking out against Mr Putin.

Some Western institutions have demanded that Russian artists publish statements against Mr. Putin as a precondition for execution. Others scrutinize social media posts to make sure artists haven’t made controversial claims about the war. Several organizations have removed Russian works from their programs, including the Polish National Opera, which recently canceled a production of Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov.”

Mr Sokhiev, born in 1977 in the Russian town of Vladikavkaz, near the border with Georgia, and principal conductor of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin until 2016, is due to perform with the New York Philharmonic from March 31 .

Mr. Sokhiev declined a request for comment from The New York Times. The New York Philharmonic Orchestra did not immediately comment on its statement, in which it expressed concern that Russian artists were being discriminated against.

He wrote in the statement that he couldn’t bear “to see how my colleagues, artists, actors, singers, dancers, directors are threatened, treated disrespectfully and victimized by the so called ‘cancel culture’. “

“We musicians,” he added, “are the ambassadors of peace.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Pressed on Putin, the Russian conductor leaves the Bolshoi and the French post office
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