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Vasily Petrenko said the conflict in Ukraine was “one of the greatest moral failures… of our century”

A prominent Russian conductor has suspended work in his home country over the “tragedy unfolding in Ukraine”.

Vasily Petrenko, the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia’s artistic director, said he would not work there “until peace has been restored”.

He also conducts for the European Union Youth, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Royal Philharmonic orchestras.

He said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “one of the greatest moral failures… of our century”.

The State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia is one of the oldest symphony ensembles in the country and celebrated its 85th anniversary in 2021.

‘Friendship and understanding’

In a statement issued six days after Russia launched its assault of Ukraine, which has seen the country hit by air strikes and artillery attacks, St Petersburg-born Petrenko said the “historic and cultural ties between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, of which I am proud, can never be used to justify Russia’s invasion”.

“The tragedy unfolding in Ukraine is already one of the greatest moral failures and humanitarian disasters of our century,” he said.

“In response to these terrible events, I have decided to suspend my work in Russia… until peace has been restored.”

The Classic Brit Award-winning conductor added that he believed in the “promotion of friendship and understanding across all boundaries”.

“Peace must be restored as soon as possible,” he said.

Petrenko was previously chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic from 2006 to 2021 and is now conductor laureate of the orchestra, which opened its concert on Sunday with a rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem.

Conductor Domingo Hindoyan told the audience the piece was being played “in solidarity to the Ukrainian people” and as a “stand against war”.

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