"Old age comes on suddenly, and not gradually as is thought." Emily Dickinson
Not only did Lisa Batiashvili define culture in this morning's New York Times
“Culture has a lot of power,” she said during a recent interview in New York. “It’s about having a positive or negative influence on the world.”
She gave an admirable demonstration of how to use a positive influence.
Ms. Batiashvili tested that power last September, when she was invited to perform with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra led by Valery Gergiev. Mr. Gergiev has close ties to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, and had signed a letter endorsing his country’s annexation of Crimea. He had also thrown his weight behind Mr. Putin’s policies in 2008 in the conflict with Ms. Batiashvili’s native Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, where Russia has stationed soldiers.
Ms. Batiashvili, who has vowed not to perform in Russia, was conflicted: “I didn’t want to be part of this whole society of musicians who actually disagree with him totally about his position, about his support of Putin, but don’t ever say anything.” So she agreed to play in the concert but prepared a gesture of protest that was characteristically elegant. She commissioned an encore for solo violin from a Georgian composer, Igor Loboda, titled “Requiem for Ukraine,” which she performed after her concerto — as Mr. Gergiev stood in the wings.