The principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra has issued a statement in response to a protest last week by gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
Before Gergiev conducted the orchestra at the Barbican last week, Tatchell stepped on to the stage and said: ‘Valery Gergiev is a friend, ally and supporter of the Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin, whose regime is arresting peaceful protesters and opposition leaders. Gergiev defends the new homophobic law that persecutes gay Russians. He sided with Putin against Pussy Riot. I ask you to oppose tyranny and show your support for the Russian people.’
Barbican security staff escorted him off stage and there were no interruptions to the concert itself, which was an all-Berlioz programme.
Tatchell was referring to a law which was passed in Russia earlier this year which makes it illegal to disseminate ‘propaganda’ about gay people to children.
Anyone found to be giving children information about ‘nontraditional sexual relations’ could face large fines.
Yesterday, Wednesday 6 November, Gergiev issued a statement to clarify his position.
He said: ‘I am aware of the gay rights protest that took place at the Barbican last week prior to my concert with the LSO. I have said before that I do not discriminate against anyone, gay or otherwise, and never have done, and as head of the Mariinsky Theatre this is our policy. It is wrong to suggest that I have ever supported anti-gay legislation and in all my work I have upheld equal rights for all people.
I am an artist and have for over three decades worked with tens of thousands of people in dozens of countries from all walks of life and many of them are indeed my friends.I collaborate with and support all my colleagues in the endeavor for music and art. This is my focus as a conductor, musician, artist and as artistic and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre and principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.’
The London Symphony Orchestra posted messages on Twitter distancing itself from its conductor’s views. They said: ‘Gergiev is not a spokesperson for the London Symphony Orchestra and is not involved in the governance of the LSO.’ They also said: ‘Gergiev’s views are his own, and not those of the LSO.’
A demonstration is being planned for this evening’s concert at the Barbican, where Gergiev will conduct the LSO in a performance of Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust.