Conductor at centre of Rule Britannia colonialism row reveals she’s been threatened
Dalia Stasevska says BBC made decision to perform music without any words
Boris Johnson has described corporation’s decision as ‘wetness’
Threats have been made to the conductor at the centre of the Last Night of the Proms controversy and her family, the musician has said.
Outrage in some quarters swelled after it emerged that Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory were to be performed without the words.
It came after a Sunday Times report that organisers were concerned about the pieces’ perceived links to colonialism and slavery.
Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska said there had been “a good deal of inaccurate speculation” about her role in deciding this year’s Proms format and the BBC has also insisted the corporation is the “decision maker”.
“This false speculation has led to abuse and threats towards me and my family which is why I am speaking out,” Stasevska said in a statement.
“For the record I have played no role in deciding the traditional elements of the programme, I recognise these are an important part of the event.
“I’ve been wrongly portrayed as a person who tries to influence political debates – this is not true. I am an artist, I want to be able to speak through my work to bring people together and build solidarity.”
The controversy about the music led to Boris Johnson intervening, saying earlier in the week he found the decision to drop the lyrics hard to believe.
“I think it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions, and about our culture, and we stopped this general bout of self-recrimination and wetness,” he said.
Stasevska said she did not want to “enter the public debate” and has a “fondness and respect for the UK”, which she described as “such an inspiring place to work”.
A BBC spokesperson said: “Of course people can choose to debate the artistic decision the BBC made during a pandemic, but what isn’t right is to make personal attacks on artists.
“We are very lucky to have a Proms at all this year and that is down to the artists that have made it possible. They should be praised.
“As we have always made clear, it is the BBC that is the decision maker. No one else. Hopefully we can all start focusing on the music which is about bringing us all together.”