Russian, Putin-supporting musicians banned from playing with orchestra headed to Naples

Reporter: Jennifer Morejon Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

Two Russian musicians, a pianist and a conductor who are also Putin sympathizers, are banned from playing with a prestigious group. That orchestra happens to be headed to Naples very soon.

Those musicians typically draw an audience but were pulled from the program last week. The press office for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra told me the changes were joint decisions with Carnegie Hall and Artis–Naples.

Many are holding moments of silence in support of the Ukrainian people in the midst of a war. The music world, across the world, is showing its support for Ukraine by dismissing Russian artists who support president Vladimir Putin.

Among those supporters is Vienna Philharmonic conductor Valery Gergiev and pianist Denis Matsuev. The Vienna Philharmonic has already removed the two from its program at Carnegie Hall. It was announced the day before the show that the pair was no longer included in the program.

The group is headed to Naples to perform at Artis–Naples on Mar. 1 and 2. But they have since been removed from that performance as well.

Natalie Santarsiero is the president of the Naples branch of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America. She’s touched to see all the support from the music world. “It’s heartwarming and we’re thrilled, to say the least. I can’t say how grateful we are for the local support that we are getting,” Santarsiero said. “Nation support and global support.”

Santarsiero says she protested back in 2014 at Artis–Naples when Gergiev performed. The conductor supported Putin’s plan to annex the Crimea Peninsula. “It looks like eventually, our protest paid off,” said Santarsiero.

She says that it’s lovely and heartwarming to see the kind of support she has recently seen for Ukraine, Naples, and across America. Whether it is within the music industry or consumers boycotting Russian products, the pressure is making a difference.

“Listen, this is how it’s done. This is how you put pressure on Putin and Russia, slowly but surely,” Santarsiero said.

Artis–Naples announced that Yannick Nézet-Séguin and David Robertson will both step in to replace Gergiev as conductor for the shows. Seong-Jin Cho will now be the pianist replacing Matsuev.

NĂ©zet-SĂ©guin will conduct on the first and Robertson will conduct on the second. This will be Robertson’s debut with the orchestra.

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