Gergiev, Putin friend, from the US tour of the Vienna Philharmonic

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FILE – In this photo taken on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, Valery Gergiev watches a “pre-premier” performance staged for veterans and theater executives at the new Mariinsky Theater on the eve of the official opening in St. Petersburg , Russia. Gergiev, a conductor close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, will not lead the Vienna Philharmonic in a five-concert US tour that begins Friday night at Carnegie Hall. The 68-year-old Russian conductor is music director of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, of the White Nights Festival there and chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic. He received the Hero of Labor of the Russian Federation award, which Putin revived in 2013. Yannick Nézet-Séguin, music director of the Metropolitan Opera, will replace Gergiev at the Carnegie concerts. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)

AP

Valery Gergiev, a conductor close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, will not conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in a five-concert US tour that begins Friday night at Carnegie Hall.

The 68-year-old Russian conductor is music director of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, of the White Nights Festival there and chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic. He received the Hero of Labor of the Russian Federation award, which Putin revived in 2013, and has frequently expressed his support for Putin, who has been widely condemned for ordering an invasion of Ukraine that began on Thursday.

“This change was made in response to recent world events,” said Carnegie Hall spokeswoman Synneve Carlino.

Ron Boling, a spokesman for the orchestra, said the Philharmonic would not comment when asked if the decision was made by the orchestra, Gergiev or Carnegie.

The move comes after Milan’s famous Teatro alla Scala sent a letter to Gergiev urging him to make a clear statement for a peaceful solution in Ukraine, otherwise he would not be allowed to return to his engagement as conductor of Tchaikovsky’s to end “Queen of Spades.”

Gergiev was mildly challenged by the audience during a performance on Wednesday night, but the situation changed dramatically with the Russian invasion overnight, theater announcer Paolo Besana said. His next appearance in Milan is scheduled for March 5th.

Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala, president of La Scala, said the request was made because Gergiev had repeatedly stated his closeness to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We call on him to take a clear position against this invasion, and in the event that he does not do so, we are forced to renounce cooperation,” Sala said. “It is clear that culture can go to other levels, but in the face of such a situation, we must act.”

Online posts in recent days had promised protests at Carnegie Hall, where Gergiev was scheduled to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon. The orchestra then travels to Hayes Hall in Naples, Florida for performances on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Metropolitan Opera music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will replace Gergiev at the Carnegie concerts, creating a busy schedule before Nézet-Séguin conducts the Met premiere of the original French version of Verdi’s Don Carlos in a five-hour performance on Monday night.

Russian pianist Denis Matsuev will not perform as planned on Friday. In 2014, Matsuev said he supported Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Wien said the weekend programs would remain unchanged and a soloist would be announced along with a conductor for the Florida concerts.

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