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Controversial Ukrainian Pianist to perform with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra despite calls from protesters

Valentina Lisitsa's Twitter comments about the Ukraine crisis have drawn criticism

Ukraine native Valentina Lisitsa was previously banned from playing a concert in Toronto due to her outspoken support for Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

She will play Mozart on the piano with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra this weekend in Baltimore and at the Strathmore concert venue in Bethesda but she has 95 million views of her performances thanks to her YouTube videos.

Some protesters belonging to pro-Ukrainian organizations are expected to be outside at least one of the venues this weekend and have taken issue with her tweets about the Ukrainian Crisis.

The Baltimore Sun can tell you which concert the protesters are expected to boycott.

Posting under the name “NedoUkrainka,” a word for “sub-Ukrainian” adopted in response to what she says was a Ukrainian official’s description of Russian-speakers in the country as “subhuman,” Lisitsa tweets frequently in provocative fashion to her 16,000 Twitter followers.

Terms such as “Nazis,” “fascists” and “dog feces” have been used to describe the Ukrainian government and its supporters. Illustrations attached to the tweets have included vulgar images of animal and human body parts.

Lisitsa was hired to play with the BSO over a year ago, and the president of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has said that she was invited to play as an artist.

“At the time we invited her, it was because of who she is as an artist, a YouTube sensation who rather unconventionally made her way to the top of her generation of pianists,” said Paul Meecham, president and CEO of the BSO.

John Kun with the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation sent a letter to the BSO stating there should be penalties to freedom of speech.

“From an American standpoint, [Lisitsa] can say what she wants,” Kun said. “We all understand there is tolerance of an individual’s personal outlook. But she is a bigot spouting vile language. She is committing what I would call verbal hate crimes. I would think concertgoers will be concerned about who this person is. They will be turned off by this and the orchestra could sully its reputation. ”

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