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An orchestra in Cardiff is under fire for cancelling a Tchaikovsky concert

Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra are no longer playing music written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky due to the conflict in Ukraine.

The world is piling bans on Russia at the moment, from McDonald’s closing its Russian stores, to Netflix blocking Russian users from accessing the website.

The boycotts make sense; Russia’s economy is declining as a result, which will hopefully cause Putin to call off his invasion. But some embargoes seem a little bit over the top, including Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra’s decision to stop playing Tchaikovsky in protest of Putin’s invasion.

Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra
Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra | Credit: Barry and District News

Playing music written by a Russian composer who died more than 120-years ago isn’t going to help Russia in the Ukraine conflict, nor did Tchaikovsky visit Putin from beyond the grave to convince him to start a war.

In fact, the composer spent a fair chunk of his life in Ukraine, taking inspiration from the country’s music and stories.

The orchestra was supposed to play a concert dedicated to Tchaikovsky on March 18 at St David’s Hall. But that entire show has been scrapped and instead, a new program has been advertised for a show titled, “Classics for All”.

“In light of the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra, with the agreement of St David’s Hall, feel the previously advertised programme including the 1812 Overture to be inappropriate at this time,” read a statement on the venues’ website. “The orchestra hope you will continue to support them and enjoy the revised programme.”

Notably, the concert was going to include Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, which features a volley of cannon fire as part of the composition, but the Orchestra and venue have copped a fair bit of backlash from the decision.

Reason editor Billy Binion, also tweeted: “The irony. Tchaikovsky was one of the first (and only) composers to eschew Russian nationalism and try to integrate his music with the west.”

Comedian Becky Lucas took to Instagram to share her take on the decision, posting a story that said, “wtf is going on has everyone lost their minds??”.

The orchestra have defended their decision, explaining, “A member of the orchestra has family directly involved in the Ukraine situation and we are trying to respect that situation during the immediate term. There were also two military themed pieces as part of the programme that we felt were particularly inappropriate at this time.”

We understand their reasoning for the decision, but surely they could have just removed the military themed pieces from the setlist instead of cancelling the entire production.