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Quartet player quits Russia trip over gay safety issues

We have received the following mail from Keith Pascoe, violinist of the Vanbrugh Quartet:

Hi Norman

I have decided not to join my colleagues in the RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet on a trip to Moscow in December.

It was a personal decision taken after a lengthy discussion with my colleagues. We felt it best to maintain the great links we have with the Russian-Irish festival over there and so I persuaded my colleagues to ask another violinist to replace me for the visit.

Being gay myself I felt this the best way to highlight the pernicious laws that are in force now: a license for homophobic bullying in schools and a green light to gay-bashers all over Russia. I think many musicians will sooner or later realise what serious consequences these laws will have on Russians and on the safety of visiting LGBT people, whether musicians or not.

best wishes


rte vanbrugh quartet




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  1. Does Putin know Tchaikovsky was gay?

    • Peter Klatzow says:

      I think the Russians are still in denial about Tchaikovsky. They still see it as a Western slander. He was married, wasn’t he?

      • Not for long. Then he tried to kill himself. And look what he left us! Greatest composer. Putin just got divorced, what has he achieved?

        • Michael Antrobus says:

          Since his divorce maybe Putin has dicovered he is gay, but in his meritorious position, elects to stay in the closet. WHO KNOWS?

  2. Edmund Coxon says:

    True artistry is usually reflected when integrity cannot be compromised. I’ve known Keith Pascoe for many years now and he is to be applauded for this decision, a decision which he will not have taken lightly particularly where his dedication to the Vanburgh’s is second to none. A fine violinist, musician and man of great personal and professional integrity. The Russians have missed out.

  3. legin buddha says:

    Take gays out of the equation and the arts in general would suffer hugely…the world over.
    The Russians, despite their claims to cultural refinement, are acting like barbarians.

  4. It would be good if the entire quartet followed Pascoe’s example, I think.

    As long as “straight” musicians (and other performers, athletes, etc.) continue to perform in Russia, and if only “gay” performers refuse the trip, the Russian authorities can claim only “gays” oppose their policies.

  5. Nigel Curtis says:

    As light relief, check out page 22 of the current Private Eye mag.

    Entitled “Russia bans gay imagery” there are three bare-chested shots of Putin the sportsman (on horseback etc) with ‘BANNED’ written over the image, plus the following text:

    “The Kremlin has confirmed that these blatantly ‘butch’ photos have been banned for fear that they will inflame homosexual urges amongst Russian youth”

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