Comments cost Ukraine pianist gig with Toronto symphony

In a Facebook statement, Valentina Lisitsa purportedly wrote about the people of Ukraine “raising in fury against their corrupt rulers.”


TORONTO – Ukrainian-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa will not perform with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra this week because of what the TSO calls “provocative comments.”

In a statement purportedly written by the pianist and posted on Facebook Monday, Lisitsa wrote about the people of Ukraine “raising in fury against their corrupt rulers.”

But she said “the ruling class doesn’t let go easily” and the “same rich people” remain in power amid misery and poverty, thousands of deaths and over a million refugees.

Lisita wrote that she has been “watching helplessly” as her country slides “ever faster into the abyss” and had taken to Twitter “to get the other side of the story heard.”

In a statement released to various media outlets, TSO president and CEO Jeff Melanson said Lisitsa has been replaced due to “ongoing accusations of deeply offensive language by Ukrainian media outlets.”

“As one of Canada’s most important cultural institutions, our priority must remain on being a stage for the world’s great works of music, and not for opinions that some believe to be deeply offensive,” he said.

Lisitsa wrote that someone in the TSO decided she should not be allowed to play after pressure from a “small but aggressive lobby claiming to represent (the) Ukrainian community.”

She added that the TSO will pay her not to perform because she exercised her right to free speech.

The TSO said Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will go ahead Wednesday and Thursday as planned, but will be performed instead by Toronto pianist Stewart Goodyear.


Comments cost Ukraine pianist gig with Toronto symphony

  1. Its the opinion of an ill informed pianist who’s Russian and who’s views are pro-Russian of course why wouldn’t they be. She’s fed the same BS as her family in Russia and don’t see the injustice that was done to Ukraine by Russia when they invaded its soverein territory. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the media dissinformation role in this. So i say let her play her thing and let the people Boooo her copiously and let her taste her medecin for making erroneous testimony and she may stop making stupid declaration and freedom of speach will be preserved as well.

    • Forgive me but this is an opinion of ill-informed individual who’s incapable of seeing things other than black and white. Labeling people as Russian-bad and Ukrainian-good is painstakingly immature. It’s true that powers in Russia started this genocide – and I pray they end up being tried for war crimes in Hague before they burn in hell. How does this absolve the corrupt Ukrainian establishment of responsibility for their crimes and inaptitude? Valentina Lisitsa may be right or wrong but she has the right to express her thoughts. I am appalled with TSO reaction, so much for important cultural institution. So I say learn to respectfully argue with opinions different from yours – that’s what freedom of speech is about.

  2. Score one for politically correct censorship.

Sign in to comment.