Protesters try to build support around controversial pianist’s Calgary concerts

A year ago, Inna Platonova held up Ukrainian-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa as a role model for her seven-year-old son — an aspiring musician who is also of Ukrainian descent.

CALGARY — A year ago, Inna Platonova held up Ukrainian-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa as a role model for her seven-year-old son — an aspiring musician who is also of Ukrainian descent.

This week, Platonova is organizing protests against the artist who is to perform with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra on Friday and Saturday.

“I showed her YouTube videos to my son because he started playing piano at age six and I wanted to encourage him to play better,” says Platonova, who came to Canada from Ukraine in 2003 and now lives in Calgary.

“I would never have thought a year later that I would be coming to protest such horrible views that she expressed.”

An ethnic Russian born in Ukraine who now lives in the United States, Lisitsa has been active on social media and is extremely critical of the current Ukrainian regime.

There are comparisons between the current government in the Ukraine and Nazi Germany. Her often outlandish tweets have been called anti-Semitic and deeply offensive to a host of different ethnic groups as well as to the disabled.

She has defended her positions by saying she wants the “other” side of the story in Ukraine to be known. She says she is exercising her right to free speech speaking out against the “atrocities” of the civil war in Ukraine, particularly those committed against the Russian minority in the eastern and southern regions.

She notes she has paid a price for her views.

“Death threats, wishes for my family to die, calling me ’paid Kremlin whre,”’ she wrote on Facebook April 6.

In April, Lisitsa was barred from performing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra over her online comments. That prompted an outcry from free speech advocates, who argued politics and piano shouldn’t be mixed.

Organizers with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra pledged to push ahead with their shows and ticket sales have not been hurt by the controversy, said artistic planning director Heather Slater.

“We understand that Ms. Lisitsa’s comments have offended members of the community and of course we appreciate the sensitivity of political situations such as this one,” Slater said.

“The CPO engages artists based on artistic merit and cannot take a position on an artist’s political views.”

Slater noted the orchestra would open itself to criticism either way.

“I’m sure CPO is getting some negative publicity, so either way in this situation, whatever the decision would have been, I don’t think there was a way to avoid that.”

Platonova has set up a Facebook page to encourage protests outside the performances. Two dozen people had indicated they would attend as of Thursday afternoon.

“She thinks it’s perfectly OK and CPO is saying, ’Well, yeah, this is OK.’ They are basically silently endorsing it by brushing it off as a freedom of speech and political views issue and that is what is concerning us,” said Platonova.

“All of this information is intended to incite hatred. This is just unacceptable.”

Just Posted

Red Deer ranked 39th top destination city by U-Haul

U-Haul migration trends report shows moved up eight spots from last year

Alberta Council on Aging to meet in Red Deer

Event at Golden Circle Seniors Resource Centre

Tickets sold for 2019 Red Deer County farm tour

The Aug. 7 tour will focus on east end of County

Pro-pipelines rally draws crowd to City Hall

Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Canada missing out on billions in revenue

Toronto mayor gives Raptors star Kawhi Leonard key to city

Toronto Mayor John Tory made his pitch to Raptors star Kawhi Leonard… Continue reading

Health: What you should know about low intensity light therapy

Years ago I nearly made a bad decision. I was asked to… Continue reading

Family: Graduations mark the beginning of the end

When the month of June gets all dressed up in its spring… Continue reading

Mastercard to allow transgender people to use chosen name

NEW YORK — Mastercard will allow transgender people to use their chosen… Continue reading

Opinion: Throwing cold water on fee for calling firefighters

There’s never any upside to adversity. Whether it’s the loss of a… Continue reading

Canadian sports fans have changed since the Blue Jays’ World Series wins

TORONTO — After more than a quarter century since one of the… Continue reading

Henderson wins Meijer LPGA to break Canadian victory record

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Brooke Henderson won the Meijer LPGA Classic on… Continue reading

Franchise fatigue continues with ‘Men in Black’ and ‘Shaft’

LOS ANGELES — Brand familiarity isn’t everything when it comes to attracting… Continue reading

Most Read