Dalia Stasevska

Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska says she and her family have received abuse and even threats, after a newspaper article implied she played some role in the BBC’s decision to include only orchestral versions of two patriotic and colonialist songs. One of the political voices for Britain’s departure from the European Union, Nigel Farage, took to social media to write “so the BBC may drop Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory from The Proms because the Finnish conductor is too woke. Why not drop her instead?”

Through a statement released by her management, Stasevska says she is “so honoured to be part of this year’s BBC Proms and its iconic Last Night. I understand its prominence in the UK classical music calendar and wider cultural landscape. It is incredibly exciting to be part of an event with such long standing tradition.

However, in recent days there has been a good deal of inaccurate speculation about my role in determining the format of this year’s Last Night of the Proms. This false speculation has led to abuse and threats towards me and my family which is why I am speaking out.

For the record I have played no role in deciding the traditional elements of the programme, I recognise these are an important part of the event. I’ve been wrongly portrayed as a person who tries to influence political debates – this is not true. I am an artist, I want to be able to speak through my work to bring people together and build solidarity.

When I first lived in London I remember falling in love with the city. The UK is such an inspiring place to work, and the BBC is an important part of that.

I do not intend to enter the public debate. I am a professional musician with a fondness and respect for the UK. I am very much looking forward to performing again with the fabulous musicians of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in what is sure to be a memorable event in September.

Yesterday, over 470 musicians signed an open letter in solidarity with conductor Dalia Stasevska: « This is an open letter decrying the appalling treatment received on social media and elsewhere by Dalia Stasevska, Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, regarding programming decisions for the Last Night of The BBC Proms. This letter is not meant to address the debate over whether certain music should or should not be included in the program. That is a healthy and necessary conversation to be had elsewhere, and opinions may differ. But there is no excuse for the abusive, threatening, and xenophobic language that has been directed at Ms. Stasevska over the course of this week.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the disturbing threats of physical brutality made against Ms. Stasevska. We condemn the vulgar and sexist language used to address her. And we condemn the xenophobia, both casual and insidious, that marks these attacks, implying that a musician cannot advocate for artistic choices to be made in a country that they were not born in. As an international community of musicians, artists, and administrators, we feel it is important to stand up and speak out against this language, and to affirm our support of Ms. Stasevska. » The letter was signed, among many others by Joshua Weilerstein, Artistic Director, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Sakari Oramo, Chief Conductor, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Professor of Conducting and Orchestral Studies, Sibelius Academy, violinist Pekka Kuusisto, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky, violinist Ilya Gringolts, pianist Kathryn Stott as well as an overwhelming number of orchestra musicians from the UK, Germany and Finland.

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