May 24, 2022 - News

Columbus Symphony renames annual Russian Winter Festival

The exterior marquee of the Ohio Theatre.

Photo: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Columbus Symphony's annual performances dedicated to Russian classical music will return in 2023, but with the word "Russian" stripped from its event name.

  • Next year's Russian music showcase is also reduced to one weekend instead of its usual two.

Why it matters: The Russian music showcase is among the symphony's most popular each season, filling a sold-out Ohio Theatre with the familiar sounds of Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff.

The intrigue: The main performance of the 2023 Winter Festival, Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 6, may have been selected as a subtle artistic response to the ongoing war.

  • Shostakovich composed the 1939 work as a kind of protest that "rebelled against the Soviet government, standing in defiance of critics tying the composer to a nationalistic cause," a news release from the Columbus Symphony reads.

The big picture: Orchestras around the globe have grappled with Russian musical influences since the country's invasion of Ukraine in February.

  • Valery Gergiev was fired as conductor of the Munich Philharmonic due to his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and The Polish National Opera canceled performances by a Russian-born composer.

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