Protesters Disrupt London Symphony Concert in Trafalgar Square

Monday, May 12, 2014 - 11:00 AM

Chanting "shame on you" and waving Ukrainian flags, protesters interrupted a concert on Sunday by the London Symphony Orchestra to denounce its chief conductor, Valery Gergiev, for his support of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The demonstrators, comprising some 20 to 30 pro-Ukrainian and gay rights activists, booed Gergiev as he walked onto the podium, according to local media reports. A large banner reading "Gergiev Supports War in Ukraine" was unfurled in front of the stage. After a few minutes, the protesters were removed by security staff.

Gergiev, who has been the LSO's principal conductor since 2007, is a close friend and supporter of Putin. In March he was one of 500 Russian artists and celebrities who signed an open letter declaring support for the Russian president's stance on Ukraine and Crimea. The conductor has previously been the target of protests in London, San Francisco and New York, including concerts at Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera. 

Sunday's protest was organized by Peter Tatche, a human rights activist who previously disrupted the LSO's season-opening concert at the Barbican in November. The events at Trafalgar Square were documented on social media and on videos posted to YouTube (see below). The LSO declined to comment on the incident.


More in:

Comments [10]

concetta nardone from Nassau

Thanks DD. Wonder what he is suing for? There are still enough kerfuffelians around to stir things up.
Best wishes

May. 17 2014 07:22 AM

@ concetta: I believe Mr. Fischbein is 'in absentia' due to a threatened/impending lawsuit against WQXR/WNYC.

But there are still enough kerfuffles to go around.


May. 16 2014 10:29 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau

There was a great kerfuffle that went on last year about demonstrations against Gergiev. I am too kerfuffled out to join this one and wonder what happened to Charles Fischbein, a great kerfufflian. Too busy commenting on some operas as dogs and some opera singers as singing elephants.
Best wishes to all.

May. 14 2014 04:04 PM

Alijo: It is understandable that Gergiev supports his home country. It is understandable that protestors should demonstrate against him and his views. However, the demonstrators effectively targeted the members of the audience and the musicians -- 99.9% of whom had made no public statements on either side of this issue.

May. 14 2014 10:05 AM
Bernie from UWS

I agree with Carol and Dead Duck on this one. The protesters probably get a more sympathetic response if they don't interrupt the music. Do it before, after, even at intermission. It's important Gergiev hears this from people but not at the expense of the music.

May. 13 2014 07:27 AM

A protest outside the performance venue makes more sense to me. It will be seen by more people (including the audience) and will not disrupt the performance.

If the protest is planned well enough, Gergiev will certainly be aware of it.


May. 13 2014 01:10 AM
Pablo Herrera from NY

The concert hall is not the place for protest. better to protest in front of the Embassy or even in front of his place of residence.

May. 12 2014 11:41 PM
alijo from 91030

OTOH Gergiev made his political stance public and should not be surprised when there is a political reaction on his home ground which in his case is a concert or performance hall.

May. 12 2014 10:18 PM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

DD, I agree with you. Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra are not causing the problems in Ukraine and there is no reason to disrupt their performance. People have a right to protest, but perhaps the better place to stage their protests would be in front of the Russian Embassy.

May. 12 2014 09:27 PM

While I support the protesters' right to protest (and I support their beliefs), I feel that it's better outside of the concert hall.

I would not support interrupting the performance.


May. 12 2014 08:45 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Follow WQXR 







About WQXR Blog

Ignite your love of classical music every day with the articles published in the WQXR blog. Here you can find blogs about classical music, playlist selections, curated videos, and other features highlighting the joy of great music.