Association of British Orchestras

Invasion of Ukraine - ABO statement

The Association of British Orchestras has today (Thursday 3rd March 2022) published a set of principles to support its members in their response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.

The ABO and its members are united in their condemnation of the Putin regime’s invasion of Ukraine and its violation of international law. We wish to express our support for the people of Ukraine in their struggle to maintain the independence of their nation, and for the many Russian artists and leaders of cultural institutions who have dared to express their concern at the aggressive actions taken by the Putin regime.

Many ABO members have already suspended or discontinued cooperation, both of an artistic and financial nature, with Russian institutions and individuals with known allegiance to the Kremlin, and we commend their decision and endorse this approach. We do not believe it is right for the Putin regime to use art and culture to legitimise its actions.

Members have also suspended or discontinued the engagement of Russian artists with a known and declared link to the Putin regime. Other Russian artists may wish to make a public declaration of their condemnation of the actions of the Russian government, and will be supported by our members in doing so. However, no Russian artist should be compelled to make such a public statement, when the consequence of doing so would be that the lives, liberty and livelihoods of themselves and members of their family in Russia are endangered. We will also look after those of our staff and musicians who are personally impacted by the invasion of Ukraine.

Works by Russian composers are intrinsic to the historical canon of Western classical music. We do not support a blanket boycott of these works, just as we do not boycott works created by composers who lived in other countries in other times that were also subject to international condemnation. As an example, British orchestras performed works by German composers throughout the First and Second World Wars. Our members will, however, take steps to place Russian compositions in their historical context, if relevant, and communicate this to their audience.

We accept that the consequences of the invasion of Ukraine, and sanctions on Russia, may last for many years, and will maintain these principles until such time as the UK Government advises our members that they can be lifted.

For a list of Ukrainian repertoire that members may wish to perform, please click here.

Annual Conference

The next ABO conference will take place in Leeds, hosted by Opera North, from 1-3 February 2023.