Russian pianists banned from international competitions following invasion of Ukraine

Two major international piano competitions have rescinded invitations to Russian pianists in protest of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Close-Up Of Hands Playing Piano

Two major piano competition have withdrawn invitations to Russian pianists, owing to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Honens International Piano Competition in Canada and the Dublin International Piano Competition in Ireland invite young pianists from around the world to compete for prizes and performance and recording opportunities – but this year, neither will be open to Russian pianists.

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The Honens International Piano Competition in Canada has announced that it has revoked the invitations of six Russian pianists.

‘Honens abhors and condemns any form of violence and is deeply disturbed by the Russian government’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine,’ the statement reads. ‘Honens acknowledges that there is no perfect outcome in this case and regrets that it is the six young pianists who will bear the brunt of a decision based on the brutal actions of the Russian government.’

The decision is cited as being ‘necessary’ in order for the competition to ‘make a strong statement in response to this catastrophic and unconscionable humanitarian crisis’.

Russian pianist Roman Kosyakov shared a screenshot of an email he was sent by the Dublin International Piano Competition, which outlined the fact that the competition ‘will be unable to include competitors from Russia’ this year.

‘In unity with our colleagues in the arts across the world, the Dublin International Piano Competition condemns the invasion of Ukraine by Russia,’ the competition’s statement on its website reads. ‘We recognise individuals may not reflect or support a government’s conduct, but in light of Russia’s actions, we will be unable to include competitors from Russia in the 2022 Competition.’

The World Federation of International Music Competitions (WFIMC) also shared a statement condemning the war in Ukraine, but asked its member organisations not to ‘discriminate against or exclude any young and gifted artists from participating in their competitions’.

‘No candidate can be seen as an official of his/her government, and no participant can be automatically declared a representative of an ideology simply because of his or her nationality,’ it states.

This is an opinion shared by young Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev, who recently spoke out against the negative impact on musicians the Russian invasion of Ukraine was having.

Elsewhere in the world, musicians are facing calls to denounce Putin’s rule and the invasion of Ukraine. Vasily Petrenko and Thomas Sanderling have stepped away from their roles at the head of Russian orchestras, while the likes of Anna Netrebko and Valery Gergiev have refused to condemn the Russian regime and have been forced to step away from the concert hall.

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This comes after major record labels including Universal Music have announced the closure of their Russian offices and shutdown of operations in the country.