A Ukrainian-born pianist was barred from playing at Canada’s Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) for expressing views on the situation in Ukraine via Twitter, according to the soloist herself. The move led to a social media storm tagged #LetValentinaPlay.
The orchestra has officially announced its decision to drop pianist Valentina Lisitsa from its Rachmaninoff Concerto #2 program earlier this week. TSO President and CEO Jeff Melanson cited “ongoing accusations of deeply offensive language by Ukrainian media outlets,” adding that Lisitsa’s “provocative comments” had allegedly “overshadowed past performances.”
In the statement, Melanson seems to be referring to Lisitsa’s Twitter posts, in which she expresses her views on the situation in Ukraine.
Lisitsa turned to Facebook on Monday with a plea, asking her fans for support to “tell Toronto Symphony that music can’t be silenced.”
“Someone in the orchestra top management, likely after the pressure from a small but aggressive lobby claiming to represent Ukrainian community, has made a decision that I should not be allowed to play,” she wrote, referring to her TSO performances on Wednesday and Thursday. “I don’t even know who my accusers are, I am kept in the dark about it.”
Kiev launched a military operation in Donbass in the southeast of Ukraine last April after locals rejected the new coup-imposed authority in the capital and demanded more autonomy.
Since then, the death toll has climbed to over 6,000, as the conflict between the Ukrainian government and the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) continues.
One of the major latest developments was the peace deal brokered on February 12 by Russia, France and Germany between the sides of the Ukrainian conflict, which led to a decrease in hostilities. The agreements were signed in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, and called for a ceasefire, the withdrawal of heavy weaponry and prisoner exchange.
However, some have criticized the lack of progress since the agreements were signed.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the political dialogue between Kiev and the rebels has not even started. The issues, “which were agreed in Minsk and aren’t at all implemented include amnesty, special status [for Donetsk and Lugansk], lifting of the economic blockade and the launch of the political process,” Lavrov said.