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Conductor's friendship with Putin angers LGBTI activists ahead of Aus tour

Conductor's friendship with Putin angers LGBTI activists ahead of Aus tour

CREATED ON // Wednesday, 07 May 2014 Author // James Findlay

The London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) has attracted unwanted attention thanks to their outspoken conductor Valery Gergiev, who is a fierce supporter and friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The LSO is heading to Australia for a series of concerts lead by Gergiev later this year.

The support of Putin has angered community groups around the world, with the President’s introduction of gay propaganda laws and the recent annex of Crimea.

Protests have been held in London and New York City before performances of the LSO, who are visiting Australia at the end of the year.

Corey Irlam from the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby told MCV Gergiev’s friendship with Putin should be used wisely.

“One of the jobs of friends is to tell their mates when they get it wrong. As Mr Gergiev is reported to be a friend of President Putin, perhaps he can convince the Russian President where others have failed” he said.

“We call on Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra to unequivocally speak out against these laws that have been used as justification in Russia to beat up LGBTI people and prevent their human right to publicly display their love.”

A week after concern over booking urban singer, Lauryn Hill, David Anderson the Program Manager of Arts Centre Melbourne reminds concerned members of the public that they believe visitors will make their own judgements.

“As mentioned previously, we do not endorse homophobia and also do not believe it is our role to dictate the artistic expression of performers within our venues. We trust our visitors to make the ultimate judgement on these issues – which they do by choosing whether or not to purchase a ticket” he told MCV.

Kathryn McDowell, the London Symphony Orchestra’s managing director has also said, “Our focus with Gergiev has always been on the music making. He has never played a role in the governance of the orchestra.

“We don’t dwell on what a particular individual’s views might be – politically or personally. We live in a free country and people have the right to express their views – I think it would be wrong to suppress that.

“That’s what goes wrong in so many other regimes, that people can’t express their views.”

Gergiev himself has also released a statement regarding his friendship with Putin, saying “I do not discriminate against anyone, gay or otherwise, and have never done.”

[Image] LSO conductor Valery Gergiev's friendship with Putin has angered LGBTI activists


James Findlay

James Findlay

James Findlay is a Melbourne-based writer and broadcaster who has worked in community media for many years. He has won awards for his work on The Naughty Rude Show on SYN, and can be heard on JOY 94.9's breakfast program, Triple Threat, and Hide and Seek - exploring sex, sexuality and self. James was also the Marketing and PR Manager for Melbourne's Midsumma Festival for two years, before traveling overseas where he taught English in Germany and worked as a tour guide around Western Europe. He is currently studying his Masters at Melbourne University in Public Health (specialising in Sexual Health).

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