Thomas Sanderling has resigned as chief conductor and artistic director of the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Orchestra in protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He joins a raft of other conductors to have distanced themselves from Russian orchestras, following the conflict in Ukraine.
It’s not the first time the Russian-born conductor has shown solidarity with Ukraine, having recently used the country’s national anthem to open an all-Shostakovich concert with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra in Tallinn.
‘Following the recent aggression of Russia in Ukraine and especially the violent bombing of Ukrainian cities and growth of totalitarianism in Russia, I felt that I had to resign as chief conductor and artistic director of the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Orchestra with immediate effect,’ he wrote in his statement. ‘This decision has been very painful for me, as I was born in Novosibirsk and had always felt a strong connection to the orchestra.’
Sanderling has been with the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Orchestra since 2007, when he was appointed principal guest conductor. He went on to become its chief conductor and artistic director, with his contract due to run until summer 2023.
He joins fellow conductor Vasily Petrenko in walking away from his post at the helm of a Russian orchestra. Last week, Petrenko announced that he would be halting all future conducting appointments in Russia, including any as his role of artistic director of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia.
While Sandering and Petrenko have shown their support of Ukraine, others haven’t been so forthcoming, refusing to revoke their support of the Russian president Vladimir Putin. Valery Gergiev has been dismissed as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic and honorary president of the Edinburgh International Festival due to his ongoing ties with the Russian leader. Meanwhile, soprano Anna Netrebko has shown support for Gergiev and has stepped away from the concert hall because of the criticism she is facing for her allegiance to Putin.