Toronto Symphony cancels pianist for tweeting her views about Ukraine

396 posts / 0 new
Last post
Unionist
Toronto Symphony cancels pianist for tweeting her views about Ukraine

*

Unionist

[url=http://www.musicaltoronto.org/2015/04/06/breaking-tso-bans-upcoming-solo... | TSO Dumps Upcoming Soloist Valentina Lisitsa Over Political Views[/url]

Quote:

In a startling turn of events, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra have officially cancelled the upcoming April 8-9, 2015 appearance by Youtube superstar pianist Valentina Lisitsa over tweets expressing her political views: @ValLisitsa

The young pianist was to perform over two days in Toronto as the soloist on a program including Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 with conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste. They have since replaced her with Toronto pianist Stewart Goodyear.

[...]

Valentina Lisitsa alleges that she was shunned by the TSO after she was accused of inciting hatred by a lobby group claiming to represent the Ukrainian community. The group allegedly contacted the TSO, and notified them of tweets made by Valentina Lisitsa which included a tweet pertaining to the Charlie Hebdo caricatures. The TSO then opted to cancel her appearance, to avoid any potential political controversy.

“Trying, in their own words, to teach me a lesson,” Lisitsa said, “they have now attempted to silence me as a musician.”

As per her contract, and despite not performing, she will be payed in full.

I'd love to hear how Toronto and Ontario politicians react to this McCarthyite pro-fascist censorship.

 

Unionist

A comment from the above link:

Aida Sorescu wrote:

I am neither Ukrainian nor Russian and I had a ticket to see Lisitsa this week. It was a much anticipated performance for me. TSO's undue censorship has shocked me. I thought Canada stands for tolerance and freedom of thought and expression and multiculturalism. I thought music is not about escalating tensions, but uniting and soothing and promoting healing. Lisitsa is not a government official, but a pianist with opinions. I find it healthy for her to trust the world for not recriminating her to this extent when voicing these personal opinions on twitter. TSO robbed me of the pleasure of listening to Lisitsa freely. I do not even know how to qualify such an act against me, their customer.

TSO cannot take political sides when music audiences in Toronto are so diverse, without deeply offending us, the "rest". There are not only Ukrainians or Russians in Toronto, and escalating bigotry and hatred of each other is the most unwise thing a musical institution can do. Should I be grateful TSO did not ask for my political views when selling me tickets to concerts in the many past years? Selective freedom of expression in an advanced democracy is unacceptable. Canadian lives were lost in the process of bringing democratic values to others in other countries, Charile Hebdo cartoonist were killed for free speech. This is one of these values that TSO blatantly just disregarded. Congratulations TSO for escalating ethnic tensions and losing loyal customers like myself. This is not my tolerant, happy Canada.

BRF

The TSO is obviously a gutless wonder when it should be a bastion, or am I missing something like the long arm of government patronage is now dependent  on singing the right political aria. If this is the case we are indeed further along the road to shutting down Canadian society than most would think. If this is just caving to the loudest in the Nazi loving Ukrainian community then the TSO deserves a blast from those who feel an artists right to free speech against injustices should be celebrated instead of this frightened "run away" response.

6079_Smith_W

That sucks.

It is kind of a fine line though when it involves a performer, and while it is one thing to express political views,  using over-the-top references to concentration camps is something else again. It was offensive, and I can see why some called for her to get canned.

I still think they should have let her play though.

NDPP

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra Silences Valentina Lisitsa's Music

http://slavyangrad.org/2015/04/06/the-toronto-symphony-orchestra-silence...

"...Before you decide to help me - if you wish, please take time and read my tweets. 

Here is what I ask you to do for me and in defence of freedom, even if you disagree with me on politics.

I ask you to raise your voice and tell Toronto Symphony that music can't be silenced.

Ask them to let me play...

If they do it once, they will do it again and again until the musicians and artists are intimidated into voluntary censorship.

Please stand with me..."

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Here's th links to the videos of Valentina Listsa's 2006 performance of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. May they go viral!

[url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBS-W4sUZ0o]Valentina Lisetta -- Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. 1st Movement[/url]

[url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDmnk0KxCfw]Valentina Lisitsa -- Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, 2nd Movement[/url]

[url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAHEdD30dxs]Valentina Lisitsa -- Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. 3rd Movement[/url]

[url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23dDDdfdf_c]Valentina Lisitsa -- Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. 4th Movement[/url]

jjuares

Does the TSO investigate the politics of all their performers? "Before you perform tonight we need to know what you think of Obamas accord with Iran?"

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

Someone must have complained. If no one complains, no one cares.

6079_Smith_W

Again, I think it has less to do with politics than false comments about gas chambers. And it certainly isn't a question of free speech because she's getting plenty of publicity, which was obviously the point.

Should they have let her play? Sure. Because either way it is a lose lose for them, and her hijacking gigs to make a lightning rod of herself certainly doesn't make me feel any obligation to jump on a sympathy bandwagon. Obviously this is going to affect who is going to want to book her in the future.

 

NDPP

What exactly did she say about gas chambers Smith and where did you find this comment and its context?

bekayne

NDPP wrote:

What exactly did she say about gas chambers Smith and where did you find this comment and its context?

http://euromaidanpress.com/2015/04/07/valentina-lisitsa-concerts-cancell...

http://euromaidanpress.com/2014/10/01/demonstrators-protest-anti-ukraini...

6079_Smith_W

She's the one who said to read her tweets, and I noticed there were none in the stirring defense upthread. I just figured it might be a good idea to take her advice before passing judgment about the TSOs actions.

Quote:

Ms. Lisitsa’s tweets about the Ukrainian regime have included some harsh comparisons with Nazi Germany, sometimes laced with morbid comedy. “In a new European Ukraine, the camps will give the subhumans [ethnic Russians] condemned to gas chambers an opportunity to offset their carbon footprint,” she says in one.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/music/ukrainian-born-soloist-dropped...

 

Rokossovsky

It's an obvious off-colour joke, not a crime.

It is not incite to anything, which is the important thing. The real issue is the McCarthyite blacklisting of performers, not a sense of humour that some may find offensive.

NDPP

Thanks Smith. Your usual sources I see...

Of course if she had come into town fulminating against Vlad the bad' or rhapsodizing about what great guys Petroshenko or Parubiy or how noble the 'heavenly heroes', the UCC banderites and their friends  would be singing her praises ever after.

As to Paul Grod's 'false allegations ' that the government is 'Nazi' and that Lisitsa's making everything up: Andriy Parubiy, who was warmly received in Ottawa recently and founded the 'Social National' party is about as 'Nazi' as you can get. As for ill intentions towards the ethnic Russians..

http://rt.com/news/tymoshenko-calls-destroy-russia-917/

Nazis in Kiev 15:15

http://rt.com/shows/in-the-now-summary/247301-msm-greece-nato-birthday/

and lots, lots more in the Ukraine threads. Lisitsa's right. Grod and TSO is wrong.

 

lagatta

Of course they should have let her play. I find the gas chamber comment offensive as well, but since when are performers expected to have sterling views on such matters? You'd have to ban whole swaths of music for the sexist and homophobic views of many performers.

6079_Smith_W

Here's the source NDPP, if you are going to play that ridiculous card every time someone posts a link to a newspaper.

https://twitter.com/search?q=%22carbon%20footprint%22%20from%3Avallisits...

The bizarre thing is how rarely you say anything yourself, compared to your non-stop news feed. Without media would you have anything to say at all?

@ lagatta

Again, yes I agree, though primarily because it is a foolish strategy on the part of the TSO and it is only going to make them look bad. But given the prospect of protests at their concert I can see why they might have opted for it.  It is understandable some symphonies might be leery about booking her as any venue might be about any artist who says and does inflamatory things that are going to distract from their event. Sorry, that's show business.  And I don't have all that much sympathy, certainly not enough to join the campaign.

And I just got curious given that this thread didn't include any of the things she SAID. Sure she has a right to political views, and she is still a well-known pianist with an active twitter feed, and I seriously doubt she is going to wind up silenced and in the poorhouse anytime soon. But when that goes beyond political views into open racism - as in  the tweet linked below - I think that needs to temper any criticism. Clearly the TSO were in a difficult spot even without their bad decision.

https://twitter.com/ValLisitsa/status/504972900936712192

Unionist

6079_Smith_W wrote:

And I just got curious given that this thread didn't include any of the things she SAID.

See that link in the OP: @ValLisitsa? That's called a Twitter handle. Click on it and you can see all the things she says on Twitter.

Oh by the way, did the TSO quote any of the "things she SAID" when they cancelled her?

Right, I didn't think so. But that's ok. Because she's on the side of Evil, and the TSO is on the side of Good.

And lagatta - what exactly did you find "offensive" about her reference to gas chambers? The fact that there were gas chambers in that land of death just a couple of generations ago? The fact that Ukrainians and Russians and many others perished in those gas chambers? The fact that the Nazis couldn't possibly have succeeded in their genocide without native collaborators?

So I find it "curious" that some of you are more interested in her expressing her opinions than in this act of censorship. No, actually, I find it typical. Just as there are those who can't recognize imperial appetites on the part of Putin, there are others who will worship at the feet of the Kyiv Banderites no matter what they say or do.

I. Am. Valentina.

 

lagatta

Unionist, that is precisely what I found offensive about the gas chamber comment. Millions of Soviet people, Russians, Ukranians and many other nationalities were murdered by the Nazis, as were Poles and other Slavs farther west. The "Slavic race" wasn't marked for total destruction as the Jews and Roma were, but they were viewed as subhuman, either to be enslaved or disposed of for more Lebensraum for the so-called Aryans.

I thought that it was a comment that belittled the memory of the Nazi genocide.

I can't support either side in the current conflict for the very reasons you state. They are both rife with extreme-rightists. All I can do from here is support those who refuse such rightwing militarism.

6079_Smith_W

A twitter handle? Not quite the same thing, Unionist. For one thing it would probably put NDPP out of business if all that was necessary was to post a site's main page and expect us to go find the stories.

And I am not sure who you are talking about, but no, I'm not going to be manipulated into supporting racist trolling just because an organization like the TSO does something dumb in reaction to it. The Ukrainian government isn't sending anyone to gas chambers and this isn't 1941.

 

Rokossovsky

Gas chambers are dated. You can immolate whole communities of people as they get ready to sit at their dinner table.

According to Lisetta the reference to Subhuman is a reference to the statement of a Ukrainian government official vis ethnic Russian Ukrainians. The existence of "subhuman" is an racist assertion in keeping with Nazi ideology. If the Ukrainian nationalists want to avoid Russian nationalists from making such hypothetical deductions, they should probably avoid such racist tropes.

Speaking of which, why is that part of the backstory missing? Does the Globe and Mail not find it relevant that Lisetta's comment come in the context of a Ukrainian official calling ethnic-Russians "subhuman"?

Rokossovsky

Quote:
So, I took to Twitter ( how many of you know I have a Twitter account? LOL) under a name “NedoUkraïnka” – a word roughly meaning “Sub-Ukrainian”, a stab at Ukrainian Prime Minister who called Russian-speaking Southern and Eastern Ukrainians “SUBHUMANS”! Yes, I kid you not. In an official written document. I am a subhuman, my husband, my mom….I mastered Ukrainian language perfectly, far better than a so-called “president” of Ukraine.

Her statement.

Statements, and off colour jokes such the one made by Lisetta only become "racist" if they are defamatory. Singling out the statements of the leaders of government for derision, are not "racist" if they reflect the truth.

If, the Ukrainian Prime Minister did in fact say that ethnic Russian Ukrainians are "subhuman", then her tangental embelishment is entirely valid, especially in the context of Ukrainian history.

Unionist

I thought that just bringing this horrendous act of the TSO to babblers' attention might inspire some suggestions about how to protest.

Instead, this thread is turning into a witch-hunt against Lisitsa - as if she actually said anything "offensive", and as if that should matter.

And lagatta - I'm not as interested in the "memory" of the Nazi genocide (trust me, I remember) as I am in its lessons and the warning for the present and future.

Fortunately, the vast majority of Canadians will never support McCarthyism. We should be condemning Jeff Melanson of the TSO and calling on Stewart Goodyear to refuse to perform in Lisitsa's place.

Rokossovsky

“They lost their lives because they defended men and women, children and the elderly who found themselves in a situation facing a threat to be killed by invaders and sponsored by them inhumans. First, we will commemorate the heroes by wiping out those who killed them and then by cleaning our land from the evil”, - he said."

I think this is the offending quote.

What precisely did Yatsenyuk mean by that? It's actually worse than I thought. Clearly he is talking about ethnic cleansing.

Paladin1

 

First and foremost I'm not defending the TSO but I sort of understand why they would make this decision.

The thing is with social media, the news and people today it's basicaly a constant state of people raging over stories they don't even take 15 seconds to read, all they read is a headline and they hit reply and scream for people to lose their jobs- or even be murdered.

No company wants to be on the recieving end of a pissed off customer who may or may not have been screwed over by the company and takes to social media and within 24 hours there's 600'000 hits on a story and 20'000 people leaving negative comments, probably with a mention in the news.

For example there was a small construction company out east and during a holiday one of their employees made some negative comments about Canadian soldiers.  People devoured the kids facebook, seen where he worked then started lambasting the company owner. His email was full of people screaming for the kid to be fired, making threats against him and his family, talking about boycotting his business, contacting business associates, calling him at home to demand answers. FB page was filled with negative and harassing posts.

People go absolutely beserk over this stuff.

Whether it's ethical or not I can understand why a company or organization would rather cut someone lose than deal with all the instant rage people love.   Of course the irony here being canceling the show will probably cause just as much social media rage, again without people even reading the story.

 

 

Rokossovsky

So we don't hire black people, not because we ourselves are racist, but because our customers are, and someone might burn a cross outside our establishment, is that it?

Paladin1

Yes that's exactly right Rokossovsky. Jews, Albertans and Newfies too.

Rokossovsky

The point is that you have a theoretical standar of "rights", which you either defend on principle or you do not. In this case not. TSO has been intimidated by censure for political reasons. This is a dangerous precedent, and should be opposed on principle.

Lisetta's statements are hardly egregious, and fair game in the context of what Prime Minister Yatseneuk said. It was hardly defamatory or mere racist screed. 

voice of the damned

Rememebr when Tom Flanagan said that child-pornography was a matter of "taste in pictures", and jocularly reminisced about being placed on the NAMBLA mailing list? I don't think anyone here was wailing too loud when he got canned from his commentary job on the CBC. Even people who might have thought what he said was no big deal probably recognized that losing a gig comes with the territory when you make controversial remarks. Certainly, I don't think anyone would compare it to a restaurant discriminating against blacks.

voice of the damned

Rokossovsky wrote:

So we don't hire black people, not because we ourselves are racist, but because our customers are, and someone might burn a cross outside our establishment, is that it?

There's a pretty big difference between that, and dismissing someone who was already a public figure, and was hired BECAUSE of their status as a public figure, over comments(not skin colour) they made AS A PUBLIC FIGURE. NEXT...

Rokossovsky

I didn't know that being a "public figure" set you into different standard of rights.

On close examination, there is nothing particularly offensive about Lisetta's statements, or anything particularly controversial about it when put in the context of the Ukrainian PMs call for ethnic cleanisng of "inhumans".

Paladin1

The point is people make politically charged statements and organizations let them go over it rather than dealing with the fall out of being associated with them.  Again I'm not saying it's right or wrong, or commenting on the depth of the comments this pianiast made, but I'm saying having seen this stuff first hand (including a victim of it myself) I can see why.

 

voice of the damned

Rokossovsky wrote:

I didn't know that being a "public figure" set you into different standard of rights.

Well, specifically, a public figure who makes controversial comments(as opposed to just having a certain skin colour). Nobody, not the CBC, nor the TSO, nor rabble etc etc, is obligated to align themselves with opinions that they or their clientele find distasteful. If one of rabble's allied bloggers started posting "Why I support the death penalty for adultery" columns, I'm pretty sure rabble would drop him like a hot potato. NEXT...

voice of the damned

But anyway. You think the CBC firing Flamagan was the same thing as CBC firing a talking-head because it turns out he has a Jewish grandfather?

6079_Smith_W

@ Unionist.

Thanks for bringing it up, really. Fact is, we have opinions about it, not all of which are black and white.

And what witch hunt? She said that people should read what she said.

I'm simply not going to be manipulated into supporting her because of the TSO's reaction.

Rokossovsky

voice of the damned wrote:
Rokossovsky wrote:

So we don't hire black people, not because we ourselves are racist, but because our customers are, and someone might burn a cross outside our establishment, is that it?

There's a pretty big difference between that, and dismissing someone who was already a public figure, and was hired BECAUSE of their status as a public figure, over comments(not skin colour) they made AS A PUBLIC FIGURE. NEXT...

I didn't know that being a "public figure" set you into different standard of rights.

On close examination, there is nothing particularly offensive about Lisetta's statements, or anything particularly controversial about it when put in the context of the Ukrainian PMs call for ethnic cleansing of "inhuman" ethnic-Russians.

In retrospect I am kind of glad this issue has come up, because I had no idea that these kinds of things were being said at the highest level of the Ukrainian government. Truly appalling. 

Next you will be arguing that the McCarthy era blacklisting of alleged "Communists" in Holywood was ok, because they were "public figures", making "controversial" statements.

Rokossovsky

voice of the damned wrote:
Rokossovsky wrote:

I didn't know that being a "public figure" set you into different standard of rights.

Well, specifically, a public figure who makes controversial comments(as opposed to just having a certain skin colour). Nobody, not the CBC, nor the TSO, nor rabble etc etc, is obligated to align themselves with opinions that they or their clientele find distasteful. If one of rabble's allied bloggers started posting "Why I support the death penalty for adultery" columns, I'm pretty sure rabble would drop him like a hot potato. NEXT...

No. The two are clearly parallel because a person has rights. She said nothing defamatory. It is entirely fair political comment, and protected free speech, which is a right.

Rokossovsky

voice of the damned wrote:
But anyway. You think the CBC firing Flamagan was the same thing as CBC firing a talking-head because it turns out he has a Jewish grandfather?

I can't help it if you can't tell the difference between rejection of racism and calls for ethnic cleansing at the highest levels of the Ukrainian government, and jokes about pedophilia.

voice of the damned

QUOTE:"Next you will be arguing that the McCarthy era blacklisting of alleged "Communists" in Holywood was ok, because they were "public figures"."

voice of the damned

No, but if a studio, on its own volition, had said "We don't want to hire actors who have PUBLICALLY expressed Communist opinions because it'll piss off our audience", that would be their right. Again, rabble(as an example) isn't obligated to host bloggers who express views that anger the majority of people who post and donate here.

Paladin1

cvc

Rokossovsky

voice of the damned wrote:
"Next you will be arguing that the McCarthy era blacklisting of alleged "Communists" in Holywood was ok, because they were "public figures"." No, but if a studio, on its own volition, had said "We don't want to hire actors who have PUBLICALLY expressed Communist opinions because it'll piss off our audience", that would be their right. Again, rabble(as an example) isn't obligated to host bloggers who express views that anger the majority of people who post and donate here.

No, because there is an intervention by a third party in this case as well, clearly. They didn't just come up with this on their own, because it was their opinion. Studios were in no way obligated to blacklist artists in the 1950s, under law. They did it to avoid public censure.

Unionist

voice of the damned wrote:
Rokossovsky wrote:

I didn't know that being a "public figure" set you into different standard of rights.

Well, specifically, a public figure who makes controversial comments(as opposed to just having a certain skin colour). Nobody, not the CBC, nor the TSO, nor rabble etc etc, is obligated to align themselves with opinions that they or their clientele find distasteful. If one of rabble's allied bloggers started posting "Why I support the death penalty for adultery" columns, I'm pretty sure rabble would drop him like a hot potato. NEXT...

I can't believe you are seriously suggesting that by letting a pianist perform on its stage, the TSO would be aligning themselves with her opinions.

 

voice of the damned

Rokossovsky wrote:

voice of the damned wrote:
But anyway. You think the CBC firing Flamagan was the same thing as CBC firing a talking-head because it turns out he has a Jewish grandfather?

I can't help it if you can't tell the difference between rejection of racism and calls for ethnic cleansing at the highest levels of the Ukrainian government, and jokes about pedophilia.

Well, Flanagan wasn't just making jokes about pedophilia(in fact there wasn't much joking at all in his comments), he was expressing the opinion, in a rather provocative fashion, that possession child porn should not be a jailable offense. And he was likely as sincere in that opinion as Valentina Lisitsa was in here.

Rokossovsky

And does Lisetta regularly offer oration of her "opinions" as part of her performances that the TSO would then be obliged to answer for?

voice of the damned

Personally, I found that a little over the top, and I don't usually make my aesthetic decisons on that sort of basis(granted, I'm not gay). But if enough people turn against Card for that reason, and if he gets some speaking engagements cancelled as a result, that's hardly a violation of his rights. He's still free to say what he wants about gays, and give readings at any venue that will have him.

voice of the damned

Rokossovsky wrote:

And does Lisetta regularly offer oration of her "opinions" as part of her performances that the TSO would then be obliged to answer for?

Flanagan didn't make his commments about child-porn on the CBC, but they fired him anyway. And see my example of Orson Scott Card above.

voice of the damned

Unionist wrote:

voice of the damned wrote:
Rokossovsky wrote:

I didn't know that being a "public figure" set you into different standard of rights.

Well, specifically, a public figure who makes controversial comments(as opposed to just having a certain skin colour). Nobody, not the CBC, nor the TSO, nor rabble etc etc, is obligated to align themselves with opinions that they or their clientele find distasteful. If one of rabble's allied bloggers started posting "Why I support the death penalty for adultery" columns, I'm pretty sure rabble would drop him like a hot potato. NEXT...

I can't believe you are seriously suggesting that by letting a pianist perform on its stage, the TSO would be aligning themselves with her opinions.

 

Well, I know people on this very forum who said that, while they were fans of the sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card, they stopped reading his books after he made homophobic remarks, even though his books have nothing to do with his views on sexiality. NEXT...

Rokossovsky

You seem to think that this is just about the violation of the "her" rights. It isn't. Its a violation of the rights of all of those who paid to see her perform, and our civil liberties generally to be barred from the opportunity to hear her perform based on highly prejudicial assumptions about her political beliefs, because a particular lobby group with very strong connections to the government objects, in the case of a heavily state subsidized insitution.

It is very sinister, when you look under the hood.

voice of the damned

Its a violation of the rights of all of those who paid to see her perform

So, this is really about payment for services unrendered? Well, maybe the people who bought tickets, and aren't happy with the replacement, could demand their money back. If that's really the issue, you should be satisfied with that outcome.

voice of the damned

And is there evidence of government interference in this case?

Pages