Wednesday, November 06, 2013


Some music critics and bloggers are calling for a boycott of Gergiev over his support of Putin, with regard to the anti-gay laws in Russia. Following a pre-concert solitary protest in the hall the other night, we understand that tomorrow evening (Thursday) activist Peter Tatchell is inviting anybody who's concerned about gay rights in Russia to join him and friends outside the Barbican for a peaceful demo, complete with sparklers. "Putin represses, we sparkle!" his website declares. Details here.

The LSO has handled the furore by distancing itself. It put out a tweet saying simply: "The LSO believes in equal rights for all. Gergiev’s personal views are his own, and not of LSO." Some will consider the response not robust enough - but having seen other organisations behave like ostriches, jam-jar fleas and headless chickens on certain tricky occasions, my view is that this is the most sensible thing it could do under the circumstances.

Music and politics: you can't separate them. Unless you're kidding yourself.

And meanwhile...the saga of leadership at the Vaganova Academy continues. Ismene Brown's blog is the place to find in-depth explorations of Russian sources - highly recommended. [JD note to self: in next life, learn more Russian than the alphabet and how to say "Я люблю тебя".]. In Russia, a leading ballet columnist has allegedly received threats for covering the story.

A few key points: a petition is being gathered to protest about the appointment of the former Bolshoi dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze as rector of the Vaganova Academy. There are also major concerns about Gergiev's grand plan to unite the great St Petersburg arts institutions into one organisation, under his direction, a plan that awaits approval by Putin but is apparently on his desk. Further reports in The Guardian, here.

Moreover, Ismene links to a Russian blogger who suggests that the force behind Tsiskaridze's bid for the appointment is actually the wife of an oligarch (Gergiev is said not to be in favour of the dancer getting the job). Big money calling the shots, for reasons best known to itself. This syndrome is not solely a Russian phenomenon. Watch for it a little closer to home as the years roll by.