Queen Elisabeth Competition Allows Russian Candidates to Compete

The competition's organizers released a statement that condemned the war in Ukraine, but noted that Russian candidates should not be disadvantaged by the actions of their government

(Photo courtesy: Queen Elisabeth Competition)


Following an announcement that the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will allow Russian pianists to compete, the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition has followed suit. The competition, which is held in Belgium and has been running since 1937, alternates each year between candidates in violin, piano, cello, and voice.

The 2022 edition will see talented cellists compete from May 9 through June 4.

"Throughout its history, the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition of Belgium has been renowned for its openness and for bringing people together through sharing music," the statement begins. "Artists from all over the world have always found a warm welcome here, even in the toughest days of the Cold War."

The competition goes on to note that taking a political stance is not its mission, nor its area of expertise, and so its condemnation of the war in Ukraine merits special attention.

"The Queen Elisabeth Competition strongly condemns the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine and expresses solidarity with the people who are suffering the terrible effects of this war."

The rules of the competition state that all candidates are eligible to apply and cannot be rejected for their nationality, or for any other reason that would constitute ideological discrimination. Therefore, the competition will welcome Russian applicants in 2022.

"In these troubled times, when some people are quick to use culture and the arts for nationalist and warlike ends, we believe, on the contrary, that the arts must continue to unite people around universal values such as peace, justice, and freedom," the statement reads.

Contrastingly, some cultural organizations are canceling the participation of all Russian artists, despite their political affiliation. The Dublin Piano Competition, for example, is not allowing its Russian candidates to compete. These decisions raise the question of whether or not artists should be held accountable for the actions of their country — and have caused quite a stir in the music industry.