“In 2013, the entrepreneurial pianist and actor Hershey Felder received a letter from Russian authorities,” writes Chris Jones in Thursday’s (4/19) Chicago Tribune. Felder is “well known for his solo shows focused on the biographies of classical composers [featuring] the maestro himself, seated at a Steinway…. In the communique, which Felder reads from the Upstairs stage of the Steppenwolf Theatre, his current home, it was noted that high-ranking Russian officials had seen Felder do his thing. Thus a personal invitation was made that Felder turn his attentions to … Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, whom, it is felt in Moscow, is fully deserving of the Felder treatment…. But there is an ethical issue. At the time he received the letter, Russian authorities also were oppressing gay citizens…. Tchaikovsky was, a preponderance of evidence suggests, himself gay. So, in the light of that, how could Felder accept such an assignment? Instead, he is performing ‘Our Great Tchaikovsky’ … in the United States, using the Russian invitation as a framing device for a show that includes many of this composer’s most famous compositions, and thus giving his show far more a political point of view than he ever has ventured in the past.”

Posted April 20, 2018