In the conflict over two war-themed concerts, the Wiener Festwochen, at Ukrainian insistence, disinvited the controversial conductor Teodor Currentzis and his SWR Symphony Orchestra. “In discussions over the last few days, it has become clear that presenting both concerts as part of the Vienna Festival is currently not feasible,” the festival management announced on Monday. The Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv, who will conduct her compatriot Jevhen Stankovych's requiem “Babyn Yar” on June 2nd, had previously expressed negative comments about Currentzis' commitment. The Greek, who also has a Russian passport, has not yet publicly distanced himself from the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine.

Milo Rau respects Oksana Lyniv's wishes

“We respect Lyniv’s wish not to be placed in a substantive context with Currentzis at the moment. “Unfortunately, there was no alternative to our decision to cancel the planned concert conducted by Teodor Currentzis, whom we value very much as an artist,” said the festival’s director, Milo Rau. A performance of Benjamin Britten's “War Requiem” was planned for June 12th in the Burgtheater. According to the festival weeks, the two concerts were intended to address the question of responsibility and the limits of art as a utopian space during the festival weeks (May 17th to June 23rd).

Lyniv reacted with relief: “We are glad that the Wiener Festwochen have found a solution and are very happy to finally be performing the Kaddish Requiem “Babyn Yar” in Vienna.” A current contemporary Ukrainian piece by one will also be included for the Vienna performance Students of the Kaddish Requiem “Babyn Jar” composer Yevhen Stankovich are composed.

The SWR program director for culture, Anke Mai, regretted the cancellation. Nevertheless, she understood that Lyniv and the members of the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra would have wanted a public statement from Currentzis against the Russian war of aggression. “In view of the consequences that such a confession would have for Currentzis in Russia, we never asked him to do this,” said Mai.