Cardiff Philharmonic removes Tchaikovsky from programme in light of Russian invasion of Ukraine

The orchestra had an all-Tchaikovsky concert scheduled for next week, but has decided to change the programme having deemed it to be 'inappropriate' at this time

Published: March 9, 2022 at 10:55 pm
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The Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra has removed Tchaikovsky from its programme of its upcoming concert 'in light of the recent Russian invasion'.

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Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture was due to be included in the orchestra's upcoming all-Tchaikovsky concert at St David's Hall on 18 March, but it was considered by the orchestra 'to be inappropriate at this time'.

The 1812 Overture was written to commemorate the successful Russian defence against Napoleon's invasion in 1812, featuring cannon fire, chimes and a brass fanfare. The piece was due to be performed alongside another militaristic work by Tchaikovsky: his 1876 Marche slave, written to celebrate Russia's involvement in the Serbian-Ottoman War. The composer's Second Symphony was the final piece in the programme.

The orchestra will instead present a programme centred around Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, with John Williams's The Cowboys Overture opening the concert, and a performance of Elgar's Enigma Variations in the second half.

Martin May, the orchestra's director, has since shared a statement to explain the context behind the decision. 'The decision on this concert was very much based on here and now. A member of the orchestra has family directly involved in the Ukraine situation and we are trying to respect that situation during the immediate term. There were also two military themed pieces as part of the programme (Marche Slave and 1812) that we felt were particularly inappropriate at this time. We were also made aware at the time that the title 'Little Russian' of Symphony No. 2 was deemed offensive to Ukrainians.

'Whilst there are no plans to repeat the Tchaikovsky concert at the moment, we have no plans to change our summer and autumn programmes which contain pieces by Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Rimsky-Korsakov. So, in summary, this is a one-off decision made with the best of intentions and there is no intention to exclude Tchaikovsky in particular. He is one of my favourite composers. We are aware that, whatever decision we made, it would not go down well, so we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.'

This is just the latest in a series of concert and festival cancellations due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Conductor Valery Gergiev has been at the centre of the news lately, having refused to condemn the Russian regime and the rule of his friend Vladimir Putin. He has been dropped by management, festivals and concert series, and has lost roles at the Munich Philharmonic the Edinburgh International Festival.

Conductors such as Vasily Petrenko and Thomas Sanderling have distanced themselves from the Russian regime, stepping away from their posts at the helm of Russian orchestras.

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Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev yesterday spoke out against the harmful impact these such cancellations and pressure on Russian musicians to reject their nationality.

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