World-famous Russian conductor Valery Gergiev is set to perform with the French National Orchestra on Bastille Day. However, French media were quick to shift the spotlight from music to the “Putin friendship” blame game.
The concert is set to take place on July 14, at the Champ-de-Mars in Paris, before the traditional fireworks.
French media, however, decided to focus on other matters than the performance, noting that Gergiev has publicly expressed his pro-Putin views and supported the Russian law against ‘gay propaganda’ to minors.
The French edition of Huffington Post called the choice of conductor “controversial,” citing a concert in Palmyra back in 2016, when the Syrian Army, with the assistance of Russian military forces, seized the city from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
At the time, the maestro called the concert a protest against the barbarism and violence shown by IS terrorists, who had used the city’s Roman amphitheater to execute prisoners.Gergiev, the head of the prestigious Mariinsky Theater, was also principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in 2007-2015, going on to become the Musical director of Munich’s Philharmonic in 2015.
The conductor also holds dozens of Russian and international awards, with the French National Order of the Legion of Honor as well as the Order of Arts and Letters among them.
Gergiev also received the honorary title of UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2003.