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Violinist Gidon Kremer is enlisting the talents of artists like Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich for a concert in support of Russian oppositionists who have been jailed or suppressed by Vladimir Putin’s administration.
The concert will take place in Berlin, and is scheduled for October 7, the anniversary of the death of Russian journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot and killed in 2006 after publically criticizing the presidency of Putin.
Titled ‘To Russia With Love’, the concert will feature Russian works and one new composition, Angels of Sorrow, written by Georgian-born composer Giya Kancheli in tribute to the imprisoned Russian philanthropist Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
“It's obvious to the world that the charges against Khodorkovsky are ridiculous,” Kremer said in a recent interview with Russian Snob magazine. “Once the richest man in Russia, Khodorkovsky sought only to use his wealth as a tool to improve society. But Russia's regime simply labeled such efforts as unjustified and a crime; as a result he has spent the last eight years in prison. As artists, it's our duty to raise our voices in a chorus of opposition to drown out those who seek to humiliate and punish men like Khodorkovsky.”
Kremer, when asked by Snob what he thought of musical colleagues' Anna Netrebko and Valery Gergiev's outspoken support for Putin, commented: “I don’t want to point the finger, but it always upsets me to see talented colleagues more interested in self-promotion than in their art form – becoming state delegates rather than artists. I’m highly suspicious of patriotism that identifies itself with the government. An artist, in my opinion, and historically, should be independent."
Kremer maintains that his concert is not conceived as an act of protest, but rather one of Russian support, with its aim to champion and protect those who have been unfairly persecuted and condemned by Putin’s administration.
“In contrast to composers, our artistic activity as musicians is limited to our lifetime. Is it not our civic duty to respond to the conflicts of our time? I’m not prepared to mount the barricades, my place is on the stage. But one must act with the weapon one has been given,” he said.