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Georgia's Concert Cancellations Rankle NY Philharmonic

Lisa Batiashvili says it's a childhood dream of hers "to bring such an eminent orchestra to Georgia."
Lisa Batiashvili says it's a childhood dream of hers "to bring such an eminent orchestra to Georgia."
TBILISI -- A violinist who was to perform with the New York Philharmonic orchestra in Georgia next month says she was "shocked" to learn that the Georgian government had canceled the concerts, RFE/RL's Georgian Service reports.

Lisa Batiashvili, an ethnic Georgian concert violinist who lives in Munich, told RFE/RL that she is "still in a state of shock and unable to comprehend what has happened," after the Georgian government canceled two scheduled performances by the orchestra on October 21 and 22 in Tbilisi and Batumi, respectively.

"This was my idea initially -- to bring such an eminent orchestra to Georgia," she Batiashvili. "This was a dream of my childhood.... I did everything to make this happen."

The Georgian government cited "unexpected financial difficulties" as the reason for the cancellation, which will cost the world-famous orchestra hundreds of thousands of dollars, "The New York Times" reported.

Georgia's Culture Ministry refused to comment to RFE/RL about the cancellation, which was reported on September 24.

Culture Minister Nikoloz Rurua told "The New York Times" that his government regrets the cancellation but said that "there was no contract, there was no agreement, and ultimately we could not come to terms on the cost."

The cost of the tour to the Georgian government is not known.

Mikheil Giorgadze, a representative of Eastern Promotion, the company that was supposed to manage the tour, told RFE/RL that "one of the most expensive and, presumably, crucial factors was two charter flights [needed by the orchestra] was to bring [the orchestra members], the other [to bring] their instruments."

New York Philharmonic officials were unhappy by the late cancellation, with President and CEO Zarin Mehta calling it "irresponsible and totally unprofessional."

Bringing world-famous musical performers to Georgia has been a central aim of the cultural policy pursued by President Mikheil Saakashvili and his government.