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Grammy Award-winning conductor Justus Frantz has been snubbed by the organizers of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival (SHMF) in Germany, an event he founded more than three decades ago, Bild reported on Saturday. The festival’s current management has chosen to stop collaborating with the maestro after he continued to work in Russia.

In a public statement, the current SHMF director, Christian Kuhnt, said that “an invitation to Justus Frantz was made impossible for a number of reasons. His engagement in Russia is one of them.”

The conductor has referred to his expulsion as “cowardly” and “unfair.” He said the situation was regrettable but added that “the world is big and beautiful, [and] one can be someplace else,” according to Bild.

Frantz is one of the judges for Russia’s prestigious Tchaikovsky competition, an Olympics-like music event that takes place once every four years. It was axed from the World Federation of International Music Competitions after the beginning of Moscow’s military operation against Ukraine in February 2022.

Throughout the years, Frantz has worked with the Mariinsky Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, and many other orchestras internationally.

Frantz, an outspoken proponent of East-West cooperation, founded the charity The Bridge of Friendship, which has supported a number of projects in the former USSR states. He’s the holder of Bambi and Grammy awards, as well as the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. 

Following criticism of his attendance at this year’s Tchaikovsky competition, he wrote, “When I founded the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in the days of the Cold War, it was not only about organizing outstanding music with outstanding artists, but also about the desire to do something for peace!”

In February of this year, Frantz was one of the first signatories of a petition for Germany to stop funding the Ukraine conflict.

Frantz isn’t the first person who has faced being canceled over their association with Russia. Russian ballet companies have had their shows canceled all over the world since the beginning of the Moscow-Kiev conflict.

Anna Netrebko, a star soprano singer of the New York Metropolitan Opera House, was dropped from all shows. She faced demands to publicly condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin, was fired after refusing to do so, and is suing her previous employer.

Last month at the International Culture Forum in St. Petersburg, Putin commented on the topic of cancel culture and the sanctioning of the Tchaikovsky competition. He pointed to the collective West “trying to abolish culture, which is based on true freedom, mercy, love of fellow man, and spirituality. The policy of canceling Russia is by itself inherently anti-cultural, neo-colonial, and racist.”

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