Call for international boycott of recruitment auditions at the Malaysian Philharmonic

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You may have seen recent advertisements for positions in the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, to be held in New York, in October, 2012. There are several very important reasons why one should NOT attend these auditions: and more – why the musicians in the MPO need all of your support in answering the advertisement, via email, to the managers, board of directors, and M.D. as to “WHY I AM NOT ATTENDING YOUR AUDITIONS!”

Earlier this year, the new orchestra CEO – Nor Raina, appointed by the parent petroleum company PETRONAS – sent “non-renewal” notices (effectively “termination”) to 9 key musicians in the orchestra, apparently for NO REASON whatsoever. These NINE players have been employed 5 years, 9 years, 12 years, and in 4 cases, 14 years. Almost all of the players have families, most with young children. This CEO, with absolutely no music background, has never spoken face to face with any of the ‘dismissed’ musicians. The M.D., Claus Peter Flor, has remained virtually silent on the action, but has insisted that the decisions were beyond his control. His denials have been met with skepticism by the musicians…

Dismissed are: Concertmaster, Co-Concertmaster, Tutti 1st Violin (Orchestra Committee Chairman…!), Tutti Viola (wife of Orchestra Committee Chairman…!), Section Percussion (also Orchestra Committee member …!), Principal Timpani, Principal Trombone. Also included are Principal Piano and another Section Viola (Piano position is being cut, and 2nd violist is past retirement age, so they are unable to take legal action.) The other seven positions are now being advertised for the NEW YORK auditions. These SEVEN, however, have filed legal action with the Industrial Relations Court, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The file has been sent already to the Labour Minister for review and probable referral to a court hearing.

Management has consistently declared “NO REASON” for selecting these 7 players – and destroying their livelihoods. Now, however, the new contracts are out to the remaining 70 musicians, and the “reasons” seem a little more explainable… and indecent. These seven players, and the Orchestra Committee, would most certainly be the voices of the orchestra in protesting the changes and disrespect that this new contract represents to the musicians. Now, however, the intimidation effect of firing these seven has assured management of little or no resistance in getting it signed and accomplished. Musicians were asked to sign and return the new contracts within a few days.

If these were not reasons enough to boycott the MPO auditions – it gets even more serious: The“new musicians” being sought by management, to fill these 9 chairs, and 23 other vacancies are being offered much reduced contracts. New members will be signing for 20 – 25% LESS pay than existing members – replacing illegally dismissed, long-term, dedicated musicians, with scaled down contracts.

This, in itself, is an affront to the music profession, and symphony orchestra standards. The concept of FIRING long term musicians only to try their luck at hiring slightly cheaper ones, is disgraceful and beyond most decent people’s moral comprehension. ANYONE WHO TAKES THIS AUDITION, AND FILLS THESE SPOTS, WILL BE JUSTIFYING THE MPO MANAGEMENT’S ACTIONS AS A FINANCIAL SUCCESS. Further, the remaining 70 musicians and their families will simply become ‘corporate targets’ for further “cost-cutting” strategies. Fire another 10 or 20? Reduce some more costs? Beyond this, the current audition procedure is completely corrupt and without standard voting procedures. Will you waste your time and money on this type of audition?

As well, anyone receiving a contract offer had better read some of the new clauses VERY CAREFULLY. The usage of “Fixed Term Contract”, is widespread in this document – and is the management’s way out for cutting any musician at the end of any term, without cause or reason. You will not be treated as an “employee”, or be regarded as “having tenure”. Can you build a future on this uncertainty?

Musicians around the world are therefore kindly requested to do the following

  • Write a Reply to the MPO Audition ad, stating the “REASONS I WILL NOT BE ATTENDING YOUR AUDITIONS:”
  • Refer to industry standards that they are abandoning.
  • Let them know that THE WORLD knows what is going on in MALAYSIA, and the total disrespect they are showing to professional musicians. The Board of Directors must realize that the new CEO is destroying the reputation of a once great orchestra, and is harming the reputation of Malaysia at the same time.

Please send your message to Nor Raina (CEO) and Timothy Tsukamoto (new GM – actually sympathetic to the musicians)
[email protected]
[email protected]

Please CC: to the Board of Directors, and Music Director listed below
[email protected] (Claus Peter Flor, MD)
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

Please BCC:
[email protected]
[email protected]

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