British Columbia

'Every Russian will feel guilty for decades,' says Russian pianist after Vancouver concert cancelled

Vancouver Recital Society spent years trying to book Alexander Malofeev, a world-renowned classical performer. Then Russia's invasion of Ukraine saw them abort their plans.

20-year-old Alexander Malofeev was scheduled to play in August

Alexander Malofeev in August 2017. The Russian pianist's scheduled performance in Vancouver was cancelled. (Liumir/Creative Commons)

The Vancouver Recital Society spent years trying to book world-class performer Alexander Malofeev, who was finally scheduled to play a Vancouver concert in August. 

But the 20-year-old Russian virtuoso's long-anticipated performance was abruptly cancelled this week following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

It was a painful choice for his hosts, according to the Vancouver Recital Society's artistic director Leila Getz.

"When Putin finally decided to invade Ukraine, I felt in good conscience I could not do that," she told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition on Friday. "It's sad, I feel very badly for Malofeev."

"It's not something I'm proud of or excited about, but it's something in my heart and in my colleagues' heart."

She said his concert was simply "postponed," not cancelled.

But she said she worried about how hosting a Russian performer might impact Vancouver's large Ukrainian Canadian community, and also whether the show would face protests or put his family at risk back home.

"The last thing I would want [is] to bring a young Russian performer to the Orpheum and have demonstrations outside and hecklers inside," she said.

Several local Russian-Canadian businesses in Vancouver have reported being harassed and threatened since the invasion last week.

Malofeev could not be reached for comment, and his management company did not return interview requests.

But the Moscow Conservatory student said on Facebook he had no influence over his country's president or war decisions.

A post on Malofeev's official Facebook page linked to news about his Vancouver concert's cancellation.

"The truth is that every Russian will feel guilty for decades because of the terrible and bloody decision that none of us could influence and predict," the post stated.


In 2014, when Malofeev was 13, he won the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians. Three years later, he won the grand piano competition in the Grand Prix of the International Competition for Young Pianists.

Malofeev has since performed with some of the world's top orchestras, including the Russian National Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia, the New World Symphony, and Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala.

With files from The Early Edition