Tugan Sokhiev Resigns from both Bolshoi Theatre & Orchestre National du Capitole

By Francisco Salazar

Conductor Tugan Sokhiev has resigned from his posts at the Bolshoi Theatre and Orchestre National du Capitole in Toulouse.

In a statement via Facebook, the conductor said, “I know that many people were waiting for me to express myself and to hear from me my position on what’s happening at the moment. It took me a while to process what is happening and how to express those complex feelings that the current events provoked in me.”

He continued, “First of all I need to say most important thing: I have never supported and I will always be against any conflicts in any shape and form. For some people even to question my desire of peace and think that me, as a musician could ever speak for anything other than Peace on our planet is shocking and offensive.”

“During various catastrophic geopolitical events our humanity faced during last twenty years of my career, I always remained with my fellow musicians and we always, together, shown and expressed the support and compassion for all the victims of those conflicts. This is what we musicians do, we express things with music, we say emotional things with music, we comfort with music those who need it. We musicians are the lucky ones to be able to speak this international language that can sometimes express more than any words known to civilisation.”

He added, “I am always very proud to be a conductor who comes from such a rich cultural country as Russia and I am also very proud to be part of rich french musical life since 2003. This is what music does. It connects people and artists from different continents and cultures, it heals souls across the boarders and gives hope for peaceful existence on this planet. Music can be dramatic, lyrical, funny, sad but never offensive! This is what my very fruitful partnership with great Toulouse orchestra has proved. This is what my fantastic ensemble of Bolshoi Theatre was showing me every time I conducted performances with them in Russia or on tour in Europe. Both in Toulouse and in Bolshoi Theatre I regularly invited Ukrainian singers and conductors. We never even thought about our nationalities. We were enjoying making music together. And it still remains the case. This is why I started Franco-Russe festival in Toulouse, to show everyone that people of France and Russia are connected historically, culturally, spiritually and musically and that I am proud of this connection between our two great countries that I love. This festival is being opposed today by the politicians and administrators in Toulouse. What a shame. And they want
me to express myself for peace! I believe that this festival can achieve more in building bridges than political words.”

“During last few days I witnessed something I thought I would never see in my life. In Europe, today I am forced to make a choice and choose one of my musical family over the other. I am being asked to choose one cultural tradition over the over. I am being asked to choose one artist over the other. I am being asked to choose one singer over the other. I will be soon asked to choose between Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy. It is already happening in Poland, European country, where Russian music is

He concluded I cannot bear to witness how my fellow colleagues, artists, actors, singers, dancers, directors are being menaced, treated disrespectfully and being victims of so called “cancel culture”. We as musicians are given extraordinary chance and mission to keep human race kindhearted and respectful to each other by playing and interpreting those great composers. We musicians are there to remind through music of Shostakovich about horrors of war. We musicians are the ambassadors of peace. Instead of using us and our music to unite nations and people we are being divided and ostracised.”

“Because of everything that I have said above and being forced to face the impossible option of choosing between my beloved russian and beloved french musicians I have decided to resign from my positions as Music Director of Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse with immediate effect. This decision should confirm to everyone concerned that I am a very lucky person, to be able to know Bolshoi Theatre artists and Toulouse orchestra musicians. It is always a privilege to make music with all wonderful artists from those two institutions and I will always stand by them as MUSICIAN!!!!!”

The statement comes days after the Mayor of Toulouse pressured the conductor to make a statement in regards to the war before his concert on March 18. He is the latest Russian artist to be affected by the War in Ukraine and to leave his posts.