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Daegu musical festival drops plans for Russian musical

Daegu International Musical Festival (DIMF)
Daegu International Musical Festival (DIMF)
The organizers of Daegu International Musical Festival on Tuesday said it has decided to scrap plans to close the weekslong festival with a Russian musical, joining a growing movement in the art world to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

DIMF organizers said they had planned to introduce the Russian musical, which would have been the first overseas musical in two years at the festival, and that talks had been underway. They declined to name the musical.

“We worked hard over the past two years to introduce the Russian musical at the festival, but as the world is sounding one voice with a desire for peace, we decided to retract our invitation,” Bae Sung-hyuk, the chairman of DIMF Committee, said.

The organizer said it has hosted nine Russian musicals so far since the festival’s third edition in 2009.

Meanwhile, there have been no indications so far of other concert cancellations involving Russian artists planned for this year.

The imminent Tongyeong International Music Festival, which will run from March 25 to April 3, will feature Russian musicians as planned, according to a festival official, who said the annual music festival “focuses on music.”

The recitals of Russian pianist Dmitry Masleev will take place in May as scheduled and St. Petersburg Ballet Theater’s tours to South Korea in September are also going ahead, the organizers said.

While some Russian artists and cultural organizations that publicly support Russian President Vladimir Putin or have ties with the Russian government have been hit hard by cancellations following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, some cautioned against painting all Russian artists with a broad brush.

Valery Gergiev, a famous Russian conductor and close friend of Putin, was forced to resign from posts or faced cancellations as he did not condemn Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. Many internationally renowned orchestras, including the Munich Philharmonic and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, have recently cut ties with him.

Last month, Gergiev was set to perform with the Vienna Philharmonic and Russian piano soloist Denis Matsuev at New York’s Carnegie Hall before they were replaced by Canadian conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin and Korean pianist Cho Seong-Jin at the last minute. The Metropolitan Opera in New York City dropped Russian soprano Anna Netrebko for this season as well as the next as she has refused to publicly distance herself from Putin.

“We should remain cautious so as not to blame innocent musicians just because of their nationality. Russian artists don’t represent the government,” an industry insider said on condition of anonymity on Tuesday.

After the Dublin International Piano Competition committee decided to ban Russian pianists from participating in its 2022 competition, the World Federation of International Music Competitions said in a statement, “The war has caused a growing isolation of Russian and Belarussian musicians, often without differentiation between state-sponsored artists who represent their government’s ideology, and musicians who have taken great risks and gone out of their way to voice their opposition to this war.”

“We strongly recommend and ask our member organizations not to discriminate against and exclude any young and gifted artists from participating in their competitions.”

By Park Ga-young (