Russian pianists’ invitations revoked for international competition in Calgary

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Russian pianists have invite revoked from international piano competition
WATCH: Six Russian pianists will no longer be allowed to compete in the Honens International Piano Competition based in Calgary. As Tracy Nagai reports, it’s the latest in a series of performers and athletes being excluded from the Canadian stage – Mar 9, 2022

Honens has announced that invitations for six Russian pianists have been revoked for an international competition slated to have the finals in Calgary later this year.

In a statement released on its website on Tuesday, the organization explained its decision was in response to the ongoing violence in Ukraine.

“It is with a deep sense of sadness that the board of directors of the Honens International Piano Competition has made the very difficult decision to revoke the invitations of its Russian competitors to participate in the 2022 event.

“Honens acknowledges that there is no perfect outcome in this case and regrets that it is the six young pianists who will bear the brunt of a decision based on the brutal actions of the Russian government.”

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Honens is not alone in its decision to cancel performances by Russian musicians.

Earlier in March, Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev had shows cancelled in both Vancouver and Montreal.

The Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (OSM) was supposed to welcome Malofeev for three shows on March 9, 10 and 13.

“This heartbreaking decision was not taken lightly and is absolutely circumstantial,” the organization said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Russia-Ukraine conflict: Target of sanctions is ‘not to hurt Russian people,’ says Psaki

University of Calgary political science professor Rob Huebert said it’s likely many Canadians are questioning if these cancellations will have an impact on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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“Is Putin really going to care? And of course, the direct answer is no, he’s not going to care,” Huebert said. “But, if everybody is doing it for every single Russian, eventually, that does start having an impact.”

Huebert also explained that while symbolic gestures can be powerful they also need to be backed by real sanctions.

“If you’re going to make sanctions that actually affect the Russian economy, they have to be big,” Huebert explained. “Have we gotten to the stage where we are able to to sanction the proper industries so that Putin is truly feeling pain?”

Communications strategist, Alex Kingcott said right now many organizations are having tough conversations about their stance on Russia.

“I think for every company you have to decide how your mandates and your values align with your programming and it’s a challenging decision,” Kingcott said. “There’s often a lot that goes into it, with contracts and some of these events planned years in advance.”

“I hope at the end of the day everybody remembers that these are human beings making these decisions and that they’re doing it with the best information they have.”

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The controversy also continuing to spill into the sports world.

On Wednesday, Equestrian Canada (EC) announced it approved a resolution to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes, horses and officials from sport participation.

“We are deeply saddened by the ongoing events in Ukraine and are concerned for the welfare of Ukrainians and the equestrian community there,” CEO Meg Krueger said. “We must stand united as a sport community that thrives on camaraderie in a state of peace and offer our unwavering support to the people of Ukraine.”

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Meanwhile, The Calgary Flames and the Washington Capitals are standing by their Russian hockey players.

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On Tuesday, both coaches were asked about the implications of having Russian hockey players on their teams as they faced off at the Saddledome.

Washington Capitals forward, Alex Ovechkin, has historically been a vocal supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the Capitals’ captain’s Instagram account features a photo of himself standing beside Putin.

“[The players have] done so much good for the organization and for the game,” said Capitals’ head coach Peter Laviolette. “We can’t control what other people say. We support our players.”

Huebert warns that as the war in Ukraine intensifies, so will people’s emotions.

“One of the most tragic elements of any war: war always creates the ‘us versus them,'” Huebert said.

“You have to specifically recognize who’s at fault here. It’s not the Russian people. It’s not Russian society; it is Putin and his immediate associates.”

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with files from Kalina Laframboise, Donna Spencer The Canadian Press 

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