Foreign organizers of Ukrainian piano competition fumble to explain ex-Russian soldier’s participation

22 April, 07:22 PM
A Russian participates in the Ukrainian competition (Photo:@Vladimir Horowitz Piano Competition/Facebook)

A Russian participates in the Ukrainian competition (Photo:@Vladimir Horowitz Piano Competition/Facebook)

Organizers of Ukraine’s Vladimir Horowitz Piano Competition have commented on a former Russian soldier’s participation, according to the organization’s Facebook April 19 post.

The competition has been held in Kyiv since 1995 until it was forced to relocate to Geneva, Switzerland, following Russia’s brutal attack of Ukraine.

Stanislav Korchagin, who served in the Russian army from 2014-2015 after Russia invaded Ukraine, was allowed to take part in the competition and made it to the semifinals, according to Stas Nevmerzhytskyi, music expert and Editor-in-Chief of Is lndradio.

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The Russian was a member of the Preobrazhensky Regiment, recreated by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in 2013 as the 154th Preobrazhensky Independent Commandant's Regiment. He is also a member of the teaching staff at the Moscow-based Gnesins Russian Academy of Music.

"[Horowitz Piano Competition organizers] please explain how a Russian pianist who served in the Russian army after the start of the war against Ukraine ended up among your participants. You even got him to the semifinals, where he plays (works by Sergei) Rachmaninoff and (Pyotr) Tchaikovsky," Nevmerzhytskyi said on April 17.

In response, organizers posted a statement on Facebook by Florian Riem, Secretary General of the Geneva-based World Federation of International Music Competitions (WFIMC).

Without mentioning Korchagin by name, he explained that there should beno discrimination against "anyone because of their nationality ... Competitions and participants should clearly detach themselves from political ideology or manifestations ... Young artists are not representatives of a particular country ... Music does not know borders either of nationality, of religion, or ideology."

"Our statutes clearly dictate that we must not discriminate against anyone because of their nationality. This is a basic principle of justice, ethics, and human decency," Riem’s statement reads.

"We realize that for someone living in a country under attack, for someone who may have lost a friend, a relative, or even a child, these words may seem empty and meaningless, but I know that every single one of the 28 pianists performing on this stage is supporting our cause. We believe that both competitions and participants should clearly detach themselves from political ideology or manifestations. Our participants are all young artists struggling for their careers. They take part as individuals, and not as representatives of a country. And each and everyone of them has signed a code of conduct, staying away from political expressions or discrimination of any kind."

Commenting on Riem’s statement, Ukrainians demanded the disqualification of the Russian and expressed indignance with the WFIMC'sstance that music is beyond politics.

Ukraine’s Culture Ministry commented that as was the case in 2022, it did not sponsor the competition.

"Last year, the World Federation of International Music Competitions offered to support the Horowitz Competition as it could not be held in Ukraine. In particular, it offered to hold and finance it as a separate competition, yet in Geneva – it would bear the same name (the Horowitz Competition Kyiv-Geneva) and would be entirely sponsored with donors' funds," it said.

The Vladimir Horowitz Piano Competition announced the prizewinners on April 21.

Ukraine’s Roman Fediurko won the gold medal.

The UK’s Julian Trevelyan won silver, while South Korea’s Kyoungsun Park took bronze.

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