Arts groups acknowledge Russian atrocities, but won’t ban cultural offerings



Vladimir Putin leads an invasion, not an orchestra.

This is an important fact to recognize for those who believe that the Russian President’s decision to send his army and countless missiles to Ukraine should mean that any artist past and present with ties to Russia should be banned from stages around the world, including in Winnipeg.

The artistic ruins left behind would not be as tragic as those seen in photos from Ukraine, but the removal of voices from Russian artists of this year and yesterday would be missed.

Removing them would be a futile and reckless task.


The Nutcracker is a beloved holiday ballet that uses famous music by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.” width=”683″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400 *400/NEP267561_web_211218–Nutcracker-Clara-3-.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/600*600/NEP267561_web_211218–Nutcracker-Clara-3-.jpg 600w,https://media .winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP267561_web_211218–Nutcracker-Clara-3-.jpg 700w”/>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / FREE PRESS KITS

The Nutcracker is a beloved holiday ballet that uses famous music by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Excising Russia’s involvement in the world of ballet and its elegant history, for example, would be like saying goodbye to the famous works that have become part of our culture.

Take Nutcracker, the beloved holiday ballet that uses famous music by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Ballet and its music have become as synonymous with Christmas as carols such as silent night and long live the wind.

It has been a December staple for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, whether at the Centennial Concert Hall or on tours across Canada or around the world.

While choreographers have added many Canadian flourishes to the ballet over the years, Tchaikovsky’s famous music remains.

Other famous ballets, such as Swan Lake and Sleeping Beautywhich combine the music of Tchaikovsky with the choreography of French ballet master Marius Petipa, are also among the most popular ballets in the world.

RSF tribute to Ukraine

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet presents Fast forwarda selection of contemporary dance, Friday through Sunday at the RWB Founders’ Studio at 380 Graham Ave.

The company’s special musical performance is a tribute to the Ukrainian people inspired by the notes of a Ukrainian violinist playing during the initial bombardment of kyiv on February 22.

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet presents Fast forwarda selection of contemporary dance, Friday through Sunday at the RWB Founders’ Studio at 380 Graham Ave.

The company’s special musical performance is a tribute to the Ukrainian people inspired by the notes of a Ukrainian violinist playing during the initial bombardment of kyiv on February 22.

Illia Bondarenko filmed herself performing Verbovaya Doschechka, a Ukrainian folk song, in a basement during the bombing. and the video inspired 94 Ukrainian violinists from 29 countries around the world to join later in a YouTube video (wfp.to/violin) to raise funds for Ukrainian aid.

“It’s really touching what he’s done,” says André Lewis, Artistic Director and CEO of RWB. “He’s an amazing violinist, and then a whole host of other violinists said, ‘We’re joining you because we want to show our support.

“‘The best way for us to show our support for Ukraine is through our art form.'”

Tickets for the performances — Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. — can be purchased online at rwb.org.

“We don’t plan on not doing this work, because I don’t think Petipa (or Tchaikovsky) has anything to do with what is happening in this terrible humanitarian tragedy,” said the artistic director and general manager. of RSF, André Lewis. “Of course it would be punishing our dancers if we didn’t do this work and we think that’s not fair.”

Performances of another famous composition by Tchaikovsky, his pompous 1812 Openinghave been pulled from programs in the UK and Japan, with some suggesting the composer’s commemoration of the defense of Russia in 1812 against Napoleon – another European dictator with grand conquest designs – would be unwelcome in 2022.

But orchestras cannot simply swap performances by Russian composers from the classical music canon and replace them with ones more in tune with today’s political situation, says Daniel Raiskin, the Orchestra’s music director. Winnipeg Symphony, who last month helped his Ukrainian wife and mother-in-law flee the war-torn country.




<p>RUTH BONNEVILLE / FREE PRESS KITS </p>
<p>"We are not going to punish great Russian composers by suddenly replacing their works with Brahms and Schubert," Daniel Raiskin, <a class=Music Director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.” width=”1024″ height=”683″ srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/NEP267561_web_201124-WSO-Raiskin-3 -.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/600*600/NEP267561_web_201124-WSO-Raiskin-3-.jpg 600w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP267561_web_201124 -WSO-Raiskin-3-.jpg 700w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/800*800/NEP267561_web_201124-WSO-Raiskin-3-.jpg 800w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images /900*900/NEP267561_web_201124-WSO-Raiskin-3-.jpg 900w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/1000*1000/NEP267561_web_201124-WSO-Raiskin-3-.jpg 1000w”/>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / FREE PRESS KITS

“We are not going to punish great Russian composers by suddenly replacing their works with Brahms and Schubert,” said Daniel Raiskin, Music Director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

“We’re not going to punish great Russian composers by suddenly replacing their works with Brahms and Schubert, but stick to our programming by encompassing as many directions and styles as possible,” Raiskin said in an interview with the Free press after delivering his family to safety.

The Russian-born conductor is also ending a ban on works by Russian luminaries such as Tchaikovsky, who spent time in Ukraine and incorporated many of the country’s folk elements into his music.

Earlier this month Raiskin was set to lead a WSO performance of Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Ukrainian-born Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman. The concert went according to plan, with Associate Conductor Julian Pellicano on the podium in Winnipeg while Raiskin was in Europe with his family.

“If anything, we should try to keep showing the human face of what Russian culture really is, and how it only speaks to the highest levels of humanity,” Raiskin said.


JESSICA LEE / FREE PRESS FILES</p>
<p>Orchestras cannot simply swap performances of Russian composers from the classical music canon and replace them with ones more in tune with the current political situation, Raiskin says.” width=”1024″ height=”706″ srcset= “https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/NEP267561_web_220211-wso-4.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/600*600/NEP267561_web_220211-wso-4.jpg 600w ,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP267561_web_220211-wso-4.jpg 700w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/800*800/NEP267561_web_220211-wso-4.jpg 800w ,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/900*900/NEP267561_web_220211-wso-4.jpg 900w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/1000*1000/NEP267561_web_220211-wso-4.jpg 1000w”/>								
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JESSICA LEE / FREE PRESS KITS

Orchestras cannot simply swap performances by Russian composers from the classical music canon and replace them with ones more in tune with the current political situation, Raiskin says.

The WSO has posted on its website that it stands with Ukraine and the Ukrainian community in Manitoba. He also supports Raiskin, who was born in St Petersburg but fled the Soviet Union on a tour of the Netherlands in 1990, and has since become a Dutch citizen.

As Raiskin has gone public with his opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian artists close to Putin and the government establishment have become targets of artistic sanctions.

The Munich Philharmonic Orchestra in Germany has parted ways with Valery Gergiev, its conductor, over its close ties to Putin, which included concerts in former Russian war zones in Syria and South Ossetia , a region of the Republic of Georgia that Russia invaded and took over in 2008.

The Bolshoi Ballet of Moscow, which performed around the world during the coldest days of the Cold War, has been ordered to stay at home rather than take the stage at London’s Royal Opera House this summer .

Meanwhile, Olga Smirnova, principal Bolshoi dancer and critic of the Russian invasion, left the company and joined the Dutch National Ballet.

“I never thought I would be ashamed of Russia; I have always been proud of the talent of Russians, of our cultural and sporting achievements. But now I feel a line has been drawn. – Olga Smirnova, former prima ballerina of the Bolshoi

“I never thought I would be ashamed of Russia; I have always been proud of the talent of Russians, our cultural and sporting achievements,” she posted on the Telegram messaging app. “But now I feel a line has been drawn.”

No one knows when Putin’s invasion, or the artistic response to the tragedy, will end.

Meanwhile, war eats away at our souls, with the arts providing a modest balm against the horrors broadcast in Winnipeg via newspapers, television and social media.

“We need all those wonderful things, whether it’s a painting, a great book, a play, a ballet, or a beautiful melody,” Raiskin said.

“All of these things remind us that there is still beauty in the world, and as long as we are able to produce that, we can defeat evil. We can stay on top.

“As artists, it is our duty to maintain a balance between the horrible, the aggressive and the inhuman, the beautiful and the fragile, the enlightened and the benevolent.”

— with files from Holly Harris

[email protected]

Twitter: @AlanDSmall


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Alain Petit

Alain Petit
Journalist

Alan Small has been a Free Press reporter for over 22 years in a variety of roles, most recently as a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

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