Pianist Alexander Malofeev speaks out against Russian invasion’s impact on musicians

After his concert was cancelled in Vancouver, the 20-year-old Russian pianist responded to the criticism of his country's musicians and his concerns that Russian music might be 'tarnished by the ongoing tragedy'

1. Alexander Malofeev - photo by Evgeny Evtyukhov

After his concert in Vancouver was cancelled, Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev has spoken out against the impact the Russian invasion of Ukraine is having on Russian music.

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The 20-year-old pianist’s concert with the Vancouver Recital Society was cancelled due to the ongoing conflict in Kyiv. The society’s founder and artistic director Leila Getz explained that the decision had been made because the society could not ‘present a concert by any Russian artist at this moment in time unless they are prepared to speak out publicly against this war.’ It was due to be Malofeev’s Canadian debut, having previously won the 2014 International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians. He has performed with many of Russia’s leading ensembles and conductors, including the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra and Valery Gergiev, who has recently faced a major backlash because of his ties to the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The young pianist responded to the statement on Facebook, writing, ‘The truth is that every Russian will feel guilty for decades because of the terrible and bloody decision that none of us could influence and predict.’

He followed this up with an additional statement, outlining his discomfort about the effect the Russian conflict will have on musicians and the ‘hatred going in all directions, in Russia and around the world.’ He also touched on the fear felt by musicians and asked ‘why, in a few days, has the whole world rolled back into a state where every person has a choice between fear and hatred?’.

‘I still believe Russian culture and music specifically should not be tarnished by the ongoing tragedy,’ he wrote. ‘People cannot be judged by their nationality.’

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In reference to the Vancouver Recital Society’s claims that he had been asked to speak out publicly against the Russian invasion, Malofeev described having been contacted by journalists, asking for statements, but that he had felt ‘uncomfortable’ about how it could ‘affect [his] family in Russia.’