It is with a heavy heart that Semyon Bychkov has had to withdraw from his concerts this summer with the Russian Youth Orchestra. Here he explains why:

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine brought unthinkable devastation and human suffering. There can be no winners whatever the outcome of this unjust and artificially created war.

Under these circumstances I must withdraw from conducting the Russian Youth Orchestra in Moscow next June. This is a painful decision as I was looking forward with enormous joy to making music with the exceptionally gifted young Russian artists.

Yet doing so under the present circumstances would be an unconscionable act of acquiescence.

I want the spirit of this decision to be unmistakably clear: it is in no way directed at the orchestra or its public. The emotional suffering of ordinary Russian people at this time, the feeling of shame and economic losses they experience are real. So is a sense of helplessness in face of repression inflicted by the regime. Those individuals who dare to oppose this war put their own life in danger. They need us who are free to take a stand and say: ‘The guns must fall silent, so that we can celebrate life over death’.”