The Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) has dropped a young Russian piano prodigy from its concert lineup after bowing to mob pressure created by anti-Russian sentiment.
The cancellation comes despite 20-year-old Alexander Malofeev’s own opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which he openly called “a terrible and bloody decision.”
Spokesperson for the orchestra, Pascale Ouimet, said that it was “inappropriate” to have Malofeev perform in Canada.
“The OSM feels that it would be inappropriate to receive Mr. Malofeev this week,” said Ouimet. “We continue, however, to believe in the importance of maintaining relationships with artists of all nationalities who embrace messages of peace and hope. We look forward to welcoming this exceptional artist when the context allows it.”
Malofeev’s Montreal shows on March 9, 10 and 13 have all been canceled after the orchestra received complaints that they were promoting a Russian “cultural product.” The performance was set to be Malofeev’s first Canadian debut since becoming internationally renowned at the age of 13.
This cancellation comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine last month. The operation has already entered its third week with significant Ukrainian casualties and the capturing of several major cities.
Malofeev’s cancellation also comes despite the pianist’s own criticism of his government’s actions on social media. Malofeev wrote that “the truth is that every Russian will feel guilty for decades because of the terrible and bloody decision that none of us could influence and predict.”
“Honestly, the only thing I can do now is to pray and cry. I do understand that my problems are very insignificant compared to those of people in Ukraine, including my relatives who live there. The most important thing now is to stop the blood. All I know is that the spread of hatred will not help in any way, but only cause more suffering.”
Several figures have already denounced the cancellation of Malofeev’s performances, including the Executive Director of United Nations Watch Hillel Neuer who called it “mob bigotry.”
“20-year-old Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev was set to perform with my hometown Montreal Symphony Orchestra this week but was struck from the schedule after protest,” tweeted Neuer.
“He never supported the invasion of Ukraine – on the contrary. Stop the mindless mob bigotry.”