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The cancellation of Alexander Malofeev’s concert

It has been a few days since we announced that we will not be presenting pianist Alexander Malofeev at this time. As Leila previously mentioned, this was a very, very difficult decision.

We saw the following statement made by Alexander on Facebook: “The truth is that every Russian will feel guilty for decades because of the terrible and bloody decision that none of us could influence and predict.” We are very grateful for his words. We appreciate the challenges Russians face in voicing an opinion on this war. However, the situation has evolved since our announcement, which was prepared and released before Alexander posted his statement.

We made our decision for a number of complex and nuanced reasons, here are just a couple…

A member of our team was born and raised in Ukraine and his family still lives there. The last couple of weeks have been a nightmare and we stand in solidarity with him.

We grapple with the notion that even one cent of the proceeds from a VRS concert would go back into the Russian economy — the very economy that is funding this horrific war.

In the days since our e-newsletter went out, the situation in Ukraine has worsened and Russian aggression against civilians has increased. Feelings are running high here in Vancouver. We have read about local Russian businesses being targeted and a Russian Orthodox Church in Victoria was vandalized. We have a duty of care to every artist who appears on our stage. There would likely be protests at Alexander’s concert if it were to go ahead. The VRS does not have the resources to shield him from that. We know of another organization that has chosen to proceed with presenting him. They will be hiring private security for his concert. Alexander is twenty years old and in the early stages of his career. A demonstration or heckling in the hall could be very impactful on a young artist.

Alexander exemplifies the kind of gifted young artist we get excited about. It saddens us greatly that we will not get to experience his artistry as we had planned. His engagement on our series was six years in the making, and we postponed his concert not once but twice due to the pandemic. We would absolutely present Alexander at some point in the future — when, hopefully, circumstances have changed — if he still wished to appear on our series. We would also understand if he didn’t want to. How can all this not feel personal to him?

We understand that people have strong feelings about this cancellation. We have strong feelings about it, too. More importantly though, we have heard directly from our audience — the people who know us and our history. They have overwhelmingly supported our decision and have told us so through phone calls and emails. The truth is that many in our city don’t have the appetite for this concert at this time.

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