Rotterdam Philharmonic on holiday with Russian conductor Gergiev

The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra is no longer working with the Russian conductor Valery Gergiev. The chief, a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, did not openly oppose Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. That is why the orchestra decided to end the collaboration on Tuesday.

This also means that the Gergiev Festival will not take place in September. Gergiev became permanent guest conductor of the Dutch orchestra more than twenty years ago and since then the festival, founded by the conductor himself, has been held annually.

“There was contact with Gergiev last night and in this conversation it became clear that the gap was unbridgeable,” said a spokesperson for the orchestra.

Organizations announced on Friday that they have learned “with horror” of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and are waiting for a clear signal from Gergiev against it. If the 68-year-old conductor had not kept his distance in the short term, he would no longer have performed in Rotterdam, it was said.

Orchestras, producers and venues from other countries are also currently struggling with the conductor or have already canceled their collaborations.

According to George Wiegel, director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Gergiev always works with “musical satisfaction”. However, the invasion of Ukraine is “too intense” for both organizations to question Gergiev’s position on the matter.

Munich orchestra also cuts ties

Rotterdam’s relationship with Gergiev goes way back. The Gergiev Festival was founded at the end of the last century by Gergiev himself, who was born in the Ossetian region as conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

In November 1988 Gergiev gave his first four concerts with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in De Doelen, and he soon became a regular guest conductor and in 1995 he became conductor. This will remain so until 2008. In the meantime, he enlarges the orchestra and receives various awards. He was also named an honorary chef.

The Munich Philharmonic also fired conductor Gergiev on Tuesday over his friendship with Putin and his refusal to stay away from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Russian had been given an ultimatum Monday evening to condemn Russian aggression in Ukraine, but said nothing.

Gergiev also fell out of favor in 2014 when he and other artists signed a petition for the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula by Russia. However, in 2015 he was appointed chef in Munich.

Source: NU