Russian conductor no longer welcome in Rotterdam

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra has decided to bring to an end its long association with Russian conductor Valery Gergiev. Concerts with Gergiev will be cancelled, as will the NTR Saturday Matinee. The Gergiev Festival will also be disbanded.

A known friend and supporter of Putin, the conductor was asked to condemn the invasion of Ukraine but failed to do so. “Last night contact was made with Gergiev and in this conversation, the gap has proved unbridgeable,” the Rotterdam organizations wrote in a statement following their decision.

George Wiegel, director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, said that Gergiev has always worked “to great satisfaction musically,” but the invasion of Ukraine is “too intense” for the two organizations to ignore Gergiev’s position on it.

This action ends a very close relationship between the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Valery Gergiev stretching back to 1988. Although, from an artistic perspective, bringing an end to this relationship has been a painful decision, neither organisation can see any other way forward. The RPO is currently looking into alternatives for programmes already scheduled.

Gergiev was vocal in his support for both the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea and that of the South Ossetia region of Georgia in 2008. The 68-year-old Gergiev comes from North Ossetia.

The Rotterdam Philharmonic is not alone in severing ties with the Russian conductor. The Munich Philharmonic Orchestra also fired Gergiev, its lead conductor, because his friendship with Putin, and for his refusal to distance himself from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Edinburgh International Festival has also said it will no longer work with Gergiev.     2nd March 2022