The SWR Symphony Orchestra in Germany said that it will continue to cooperate with Greek-Russian conductor Teodor Currentzis despite his "problematic" links to a Russian bank affected by sanctions related to the war
Germany's SWR Symphony Orchestra on Friday said it would keep working with Greek-Russian conductor Teodor Currentzis despite his "problematic" ties to a Russian bank hit by sanctions over the war in Ukraine. The Stuttgart-based SWR radio orchestra said a European tour starting March 27 would go ahead as planned but the programme would be changed to feature Russian, German and Ukrainian composers in "an appeal for peace and reconciliation".
Leading Russian artists working abroad have faced pressure to publicly denounce President Vladimir Putin's invasion, or risk losing their jobs.
Currentzis, who has been chief conductor of the SWR orchestra since 2018, has not spoken out against Putin.
But the SWR orchestra said in a statement it was satisfied that the cooperation with the celebrated maestro was based "on shared values and convictions".
"We are not helping anyone or ending the war by issuing a blanket condemnation of artists who live and work in Russia and by automatically ending collaboration," said SWR director Kai Gniffke.
The company added it was "aware" that Currentzis' Saint Petersburg-based band MusicAeterna is funded by Russia's state-owned VTB Bank.
The bank is on a growing list of companies targeted by Western sanctions over Moscow's aggression in Ukraine.
Currentzis' link with VTB Bank "is certainly problematic, but it has existed for a long time", the orchestra said.
"A supportive stance for the ongoing Russian attack on Ukraine cannot be deduced from this," it added.
Renowned Russian conductor and Kremlin loyalist Valery Gergiev was last month stripped of his role at the Munich Philharmonic and declared persona non grata at several prestigious concert halls for failing to criticise Putin.