“We - Artists, Cultural Figures – Must Remain Peacemakers”

Violinist Christopher Coritsidis weighs in on recent protests at some of New York City’s top performance halls and more…

A big ‘HELLO’ to all of you for my first post as an official blogger for Hello Stage! I’m very excited to have been given this opportunity to share my life with all of you, as a performing artist and world citizen, and I am looking forward to the exchange of our thoughts, opinions and viola jokes here as a community. Let’s connect! ☺

Now, before getting into the nitty-gritty of things, I’d like to thank Bernhard and the Hello Stage team for their vision in creating this new platform for the 21st century classical music world - bravo!

Seeing as this is my first entry, I didn’t want to disappoint any of you with the usual humdrum topics – “How many hours a day should I practice?” “What is your favorite recording of the Sibelius Violin Concerto?”


Instead, I wanted to touch upon a subject of much debate which appears to have, both, the world and the performing arts community divided – the conflict in Ukraine. It has become nearly impossible to ignore the demonstrations by anti-Putin protestors outside New York City’s opera houses and concert halls for the past nine months, with posters reading “Don’t Play Putin’s Tune” and chants of “Say ‘No’ to [Conductor’s Name]. Say ‘No’ to War.” Watching one of the demonstrators, a young concert pianist, attempt to light fifteen candles on this chilly, windy evening outside Lincoln Center Plaza, one for each of the fifteen people who were killed in Ukraine that day, brought with it the bitter taste of reality- The reality of those living everyday in a war zone.

It is difficult to discuss topics of such weight without throwing one’s own opinion into the pot; one that is already boiling from a lot of emotional tension and strong points-of-view. But, as a supporter of every individual’s right to express his or her opinion, I would like to humbly share my views on the situation in Ukraine and my attitude toward those who have taken sides on this matter within the performing arts community. I have clearly stated that my position is with the Ukrainian people in past interviews and media statements I’ve given throughout the last year. My stance has not changed as I’ve absorbed more information from both sides over time, as I believe in the sincerity of the desire the Ukrainian people have to establish a truly autonomous, democratic state outside Russia’s sphere of influence. To me, it is completely logical that a former Soviet Republic would want to re-identity itself after several decades of being simply viewed as “one of the many” in the USSR. Ukraine and its people, in this respect, are justified in their actions to preserve, protect and maintain what they have built for themselves as a nation since 1991.

This does not mean that I am anti-Russian and harbor any negative feelings towards the people of the Russian Federation. Quite the contrary- I have always cherished my performances in Moscow and St. Petersburg; for the many outstanding Russian musicians I was honored to play with and the enthusiasm of the highly educated and devoted Russian audiences. Knowing and having experienced the cultural richness of this nation, I cannot understand the motives of the artists and cultural figures who have aligned themselves with a politician whose actions threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty and integrity of a foreign country and its people. This, for me, is the ultimate offense as a public figure – to stand in support of someone who exercises their authority in committing gross crimes against humanity.

I’ve often felt that it is not enough to simply play concerts and, otherwise, be a relatively inactive participant in the world. Music has the power to be an effective tool for change, so I do applaud the friends and colleagues of mine, like Lisa Batiashvili and Pavel Gintov (pictured with me above), who use their talents as an instrument for good and peace. As for the others, who shall remain nameless in order to a) not draw further attention to them b) as a professional courtesy c) and because we all know who they are, as per their signature on a certain public letter, I question their awareness of the consequences of their influence upon the global community. I question their judgment on the actions of the parties they defend – are they in full comprehension of the facts or do they turn a blind eye in the direction of the unfavorable? I don’t know. What I do know is that it is not a matter of being pro- or anti- this or that, but one where innocent civilian lives are being taken and exploited for the gains of the corrupt and the mouths they are feeding.

I’ve quoted the wonderful (and often vocal) violinist Gidon Kremer for the title of my post because, I believe, this is where the position of a public figure lies – in that of a peacemaker. We artists are here to represent the highest ideals and principles of society. As I believe the arts accept all, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, creed, orientation and gender, so must we - we must become and be representatives of fraternité, equalité, and liberté (to quote the brilliant French motto). Ah, yes - and Truth.

So, I am posing these two questions to all of you today:

- What is our position in the world, as artists and cultural ambassadors, and should we be vocal on the issues we feel strongly about?

- Do Arts and Politics mix?

I can’t wait to read your comments and thoughts on this, as I know it is something we are all discussing nowadays and I’m sure many of you have developed interesting opinions of your own.

On that note, I’m off to practice! 15:15 and not a note played. Yikes!

Anyways, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading first post and I promise to outline, in GREAT detail, how to practice scales from C to C-flat next time. I jest, of course!

Until then,


Violinist Christopher Coritsidis is an international performing artist and social activist based in New York City. When off-stage, he enjoys French literature (and wine!), out-stocking the best donut shops in every city, and...blogging! Follow Christopher on Instagram and of course, on HELLO STAGE!
Author: Christopher Coritsidis
Comments [4]
Marianne Dumas - 2015-02-18 09:01
Hi Christopher! Thank you for your great post.
I think that many of uf who read it thought about answering and then so many questions & points came to us that we thought we would love to answer but where to start and how to start.. Last night I had a great talk another musician about "can you be honnest andbe successful" , we ended up talking about WWII, then about nowdays, religions, war, what is the power of a muscian as a peacemaker. So many parametres... for only 500 characters.. :)
Marie-Astrid Zeinstra - 2015-02-20 21:13 edited
Hi Christopher. Your post reminds me of a project I did in 1985 with the Dutch Student Chamber Choir with a program of classical and contemporary music from east-european composers, most of whom still were suffering under communist oppression. Jaroslav Hutka, one of the undersigned of the Czech pamflet Charta 77, was invited to join the choir and perform several of his critical songs. To this day I still consider this co-operation just and remarkable, so yes: music and politics definitely mix!
Christopher Coritsidis - 2015-02-24 19:11
Hi, Marianne. Thanks for wonderful comments & input! What an interesting topic - "Can you be honest & successful?".I may have to explore that further in a future entry on the blog... Where to start is also a valid question & I do believe that the best way is to start where your resources will have the greatest impact,like your community for example. We usually know quite a few people in ourcircles & many of them may be receptive to helping you versus those whom you have no connection to
Christopher Coritsidis - 2015-02-24 19:15
Hello Marie-Astrid. Thank you for your comment! Your project sounded wonderful and just, as you said, and bravo to you for showing your support of these composers. I wish I were alive in 1985 to have been able to attend your performance! :-)
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