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Under Pressure to Cut Russian Ties, Maestro Forms New Orchestra

by Jersey Lady

Conductor Teodor Currentzis, who has faced scrutiny since the start of the war in Ukraine for his links to Russia’s state-owned banks, announced on Monday that a new international ensemble was backed by donors outside Russia. announced the formation of

Called Utopia, the ensemble brings together 112 musicians from 28 countries, many of whom are soloists and principals of renowned orchestras, on a European tour starting this fall and running through 2023. The group relies on ticket sales and donations from European supporters to fund its operations, the statement said.

Currentzis, who has built a career against classical music convention, said he hopes the new group will shake up the traditional orchestral model, in which musicians perform together in the same concert hall for years. said in a statement that the new group “will leave the framework of a respectable institution behind.”

“We are venturing into the more experimental realm of searching for the perfect sound with outstanding musicians that everyone covets,” he added.

The statement made no mention of Currentzis’ future with his longtime ensemble, MusicAeterna. Fired with a dependency on VTB Bank. VTB Bank is a state-owned Russian institution that has been sanctioned by the United States and other countries but remains the ensemble’s main sponsor. Representatives for Currentzis and MusicAeterna did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

The statement did not give details about Utopia’s European backers, but said it included a private foundation called Kunst und Kultur DM.

Currentzis has faced pressure in recent months to secure funding outside Russia for MusicAeterna, which was founded in Siberia in 2004. He has also been accused of keeping quiet about the war and collaborating with associates of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. He sits on the Board of Directors of the MusicAeterna Foundation. Several of the Ensemble’s engagements have been canceled or postponed since the start of the war, out of concern for the Ensemble’s benefactors.

Still, MusicAeterna is pushing its efforts in Russia and abroad. Most recently, Currentzis, who was born in Athens and was granted Russian citizenship by President Putin in 2014, leads a performance before a sold-out crowd at Austria’s prestigious Salzburg Festival.

Several of his artistic partners applauded his decision to form Utopia on Monday.

Matthias Naske, artistic director of the Wiener Konzerthaus, said he would not be involved with MusicAeterna until it secured independent funding, calling Utopia a significant achievement. The new group will play concert halls in October during a tour that includes Luxembourg and Germany.

“I would like to thank Theodor Currentzis for his dedication and look forward to many encounters with his new projects for cultural life in Vienna,” Naske said in a statement.

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