Carnegie Hall event canceled in connection to far-right Polish newspaper
A classical music event at the Carnegie Hall was cancel when it was discovered that the US-based organizer, the Gazeta Polska Community of America, was connected to a far-right newspaper in Poland.
The Gazeta Polska Community of America had scheduled a concert celebrating the centenary of US-Polish diplomatic relations called “From Chopin to Gershwin” on October 24 at the Carnegie Hall in New York.
However, when it was learned that the organizers were linked to the conservative Gazeta Polska newspaper that had distributed anti-LGBTQ stickers, the concert’s musicians backed out.
Carnegie Hall and Gazeta Polska
The problem started when Gazeta Polska, a weekly Polish newsmagazine, began to publish anti-LGBTQ and anti-migrant content, as well as distributing “LGBT-Free Zone” stickers.
They also featured an image of rainbow paint-stained hands desecrating a statue of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus, which sparked global condemnation and an advertiser boycott in Europe.
The organizer of the Carnegie event, Gazeta Polska Community of America, claims that it is “independent and separate from the Gazeta Polska print media and it’s editorial board.”
However, Rafal Pankowski, a sociology professor in Warsaw and member of the Polish anti-racism watchdog group Never Again, said the foundation “shares the political perspectives of the newspaper.”
Pankowski added that the newspaper’s editor, Tomasz Sakiewicz, “is very active in organizing it and leading it.”
Likewise, the group’s Facebook page says it is supported by the magazine’s editorial board.
Two performers back out at Carnegie Hall
When word spread, Carnegie Hall experienced pushback from the community, including the performers of the event refusing to participate in the event.
British-born pianist Jack Gibbons told Slipped Disc: “I had no choice but to withdraw from the concert after discovering the link” between the foundation and the newspaper.
“It was not a decision I took lightly, but I could not with good conscience take part in an event that had connections to an organization that expressed views that I regarded as abhorrent and which were in opposition to everything I stood for,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons further said pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin and opera singer Angel Blue had also withdrawn from the event.
Pianist Paul Bisaccia told NBC News: “To walk out on that stage is a great honor, to be asked to do it is a great honor.”
“To find out that the sponsor is someone who would besmirch this honor is very depressing and saddening to me,” Bisaccia said.
Cancellation of the Carnegie Hall event
Carnegie Hall clarified that an outsider organization group was just renting the hall for their event.
Synneve Carlino, a Carnegie Hall spokesperson, said: “Carnegie Hall has been speaking with this rental group this week since we learned of the sticker campaign.”
“While they have told us that they don’t support the campaign, they informed us today that they will not present the performance,” Carlino said, who confirmed the group’s cancellation of the event.
Carnegie Hall also said it “strongly rejects this sticker campaign and does not condone discrimination or intolerance against any group.”
“The foundation stands against political censorship of any kind, discrimination on the basis of beliefs, nationality or sexual orientation, as well as against totalitarian systems and ideologies, and those principles are written into the charter,” it claimed.