A WELSH orchestra has said it has dropped music by Russian composer Tchaikovsky from its programme as a member has family directly impacted by the situation in Ukraine. 

The Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra also said it felt two military pieces it had originally intended to perform during its upcoming concerts would be inappropriate at present and it had concerns over the title of one song. 

It’s decision to drop the famed composer’s arrangements have been widely reported and Conservative MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, Fay Jones, responded with a tweet that said “Groan. Putin is the enemy here. Not Russia.” 

A statement on the orchestra’s website said: “In light of the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra, with the agreement of St. David's Hall, feel the previously advertised programme including the 1812 Overture to be inappropriate at this time.” 

 

The decision had been seen as part of a cultural backlash towards Russia that has seen various groups and organisations react with measures over and above economic sanctions being imposed by various governments in response to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. 

Elsewhere in Wales Swansea council cancelled a performance of Swan Lake, planned for the city’s Grand Theatre, even though the English producers had dropped its Russian State Opera brand name amid the anti-Russia backlash.

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The Co-op supermarket has also pulled Russian vodka from its shelves while there have been reports of youth sports events cancelled and various unofficial boycotts of Russian products or associations with the country. 

The Guardian has reported the Cardiff orchestra “is facing ridicule” over the decision and said Cellist Max Weiss, editor of Baltimore magazine, shared the announcement on Twitter and stated “everyone needs to get a grip”.  

 

Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser to former US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, said in a tweet the orchestra’s move was “doubly absurd because Tchaikovsky spent a lot of time in Ukraine, and incorporated a lot of Ukrainian folk music and stories into his work”. 

 

But a spokesperson for the Cardiff ensemble, which describes itself as “one of Wales's foremost non-professional orchestras”, told The National its decision had been made in light of particular circumstances. 

The spokesperson said: “A member of the orchestra has family directly involved in the Ukraine situation and we are trying to respect that situation during the immediate term.  

“There were also two military themed pieces as part of the programme (Marche Slave and 1812) that we felt were particularly inappropriate at this time.  

“We were also made aware at the time that the title "Little Russian" of Symphony No 2 was deemed offensive to Ukrainians.  

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“Whilst there are no plans to repeat the Tchaikovsky concert at the moment, we have no plans to change our summer and autumn programmes which contain pieces by Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev and Rimsky-Korsakof. So, in summary, this is a one off decision made with the best of intentions.” 

The new programme for the March 18 performance will include John Williams’ The Cowboys Overture, Dvorak’s Symphony No.8 and a performance of Elgar’s Variations On An Original Theme. 

The orchestra will also perform the Ukrainian anthem and a "very suitable homage as an encore".

The National also contacted members of a Russian linked community organisation in Cardiff but they didn't wish to comment regarding increased hostility towards Russia in the UK. 

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