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Toronto church says it won’t allow Ukrainian born pianist to perform

Valentina Lisitsa had said she’d play at Lawrence Park Community Church


 
Ukraine-born classical pianist Valentina Lisitsa performs live on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London on June 19, 2012. (Andrew Cowie/AFP/GettyImages)

Ukraine-born classical pianist Valentina Lisitsa performs live on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London on June 19, 2012. (Andrew Cowie/AFP/GettyImages)

TORONTO — A Ukrainian-born pianist who has been barred from performing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra says she’ll be giving a free concert in Toronto tonight.

Valentina Lisitsa posted on Twitter Thursday night that she’ll play at Lawrence Park Community Church in north Toronto.

However, church minister John Suk says they have “not rented the church sanctuary to her” and is checking to see another renter “squeezed her in” without telling them.

Suk said in an email to The Canadian Press that if the booking slipped past church officials, it will be cancelled immediately.

“We have no interest in identifying ourselves with the attitudes that she has publicly expressed,” he said. “Our values would never allow us to align ourselves with the sort of comments Ms. Lisitsa has allegedly made.”

Suk added that staff handle church rentals are they not a matter that he or the church leadership usually pay much attention to.

The TSO cancelled Lisitsa’s performances Wednesday and Thursday night over what symphony president and CEO Jeff Melanson called “offensive” Twitter posts.

Lisitsa, an ethnic Russian born in Ukraine who now lives in the United States, said she had been accused by the orchestra of “inciting hatred” on Twitter because of her comments on the conflict in Ukraine.

The incident unleashed a firestorm of divisive online commentary, with many taking sides on Twitter and Facebook over whether Lisitsa should have been dropped from the Toronto orchestra.

Despite being at the centre of the online controversy, Lisitsa will perform with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra in June as scheduled.


 

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