Meet Valentina Lisitsa. She’s a pianist who was scheduled to perform two shows with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra this week. She feels she’s being treated unfairly because she’s been replaced. Despite her still being paid, it’s clearly not fair!
What prompted the TSO’s hand was her performance on her twitter account. See, she’s very pro-Russian when it comes to the Ukraine. Differing opinions happen, but she’s taken it a step further. According to WQXR, Orchestra CEO Jeff Melanson said,
Due to ongoing accusations of deeply offensive language by Ukrainian media outlets, we have decided to replace Valentina Lisitsa.
I went to her twitter account, but it’s such a zoo that I never got back as far as these alleged offensive tweets. She’s draped herself in freedom of speech and accused the TSO of censorship. Frankly, when I saw all that, I thought perhaps she was very young. In fact, she’s in her 40s and should know better.
I’m bemused at her not realizing that the things we say can have consequences we don’t like. The TSO has not censored her in the least. She continues to enjoy the freedom to say what he wants. But those pesky consequences!
To my amusement, one of her supporters lamented that music should be free of politics. Putting aside overtly political music, I agree. I replied and voiced my agreement. But I added, “…so who brought politics into it? Not the TSO.”
The performance, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in this case, should indeed be about the music, but she turned it into a circus. She brought politics into it and I can’t fault the TSO for their actions. Melanson nailed it perfectly when he stated,
Valentina Lisitsa’s provocative comments have overshadowed past performances. 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.
It’s precisely because of this kind of thing that I do not understand entertainers who ‘let themselves out’ in social media. The moment they make their Facebook page, their Twitter feed, or their web page a platform for their views, especially political views, they’re going to drive people away. That’s simply not good business unless what you express is a common belief among your audience. I’m not suggesting that entertainers should agree with everyone, but why not just entertain, and express outrage to one’s friends and family, like most of us do?
I’m also not suggesting that anyone limit themselves if they simply can’t help it, but don’t portray yourself as being wronged when I exercise my freedom of choice and support another artist who cares more about sharing their craft than their politics.