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Brazil warned: your reputation is at stake

Two open letters have come in overnight, warning of possible after-effects of the ‘re-evaluation’ process at the Brazil Symphony Orchestra. One is from a senior official of the American Federation of Musicians, the other from the manager of the orchestra in Belgrade, Serbia. I print them as received, in Portuguese and English.

Carta do Vice-Presidente da Federação de Músicos (American Federation of Musicians) John Acosta para o Presidente da FOSB by Antonio J Augusto on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 8:03pm Caro Senhor Estou escrevendo para o senhor no que diz respeito às ações recentes que sua administração tomou em relação aos músicos da Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira. Se não me engano, você está pedindo que toda a orquestra re-audicione para os seus cargos, depois de todos terem passado por um teste para sua posição atual na orquestra. Este ato vai de encontro a todas as normas que são seguidos em todas as orquestras profissionais ao redor do mundo. O Brasil se tornou um líder mundial nos negócios e nas artes, e suas ações irão diminuir a reputação do Brasil não só no Mercosul, mas em todo o mundo, onde a música clássica é tocada e apreciada. Peço-lhe que reconsidere suas ações, evitando manchar o bom nome de sua orquestra, entre as grandes orquestras do mundo. Trabalhe com seus músicos para encontrar uma solução razoável para os problemas que você enfrenta. Atenciosamente, John Acosta Vice-President American Federation of Musicians Los Angeles, California Professional Musicians Local 47 AFL-CIO Tel 323-993-3173 Fax 323-469-5864 

Dear Sir I am writing to you in regards to the recent actions your management has taken with the musicians of the Brazilian Symphony. If I am not mistaken, you are now asking that the entire orchestra re-audition for their positions, after having initially auditioned for their current position with the orchestra. This act flies in the face of all norms that are followed within all professional orchestras around the world. Brazil has become a world leader in business and the arts, and your actions will only diminish Brazil’s reputation not only in the Mercosur, but all over the world, where classical music is played and appreciated. I urge you to reconsider your actions, and avoid blemishing the good name of your orchestra among the great orchestras around the world. Work with your musicians to find a reasonable solution to the problems you face. Sincerely, John Acosta Vice-President American Federation of Musicians Los Angeles, California Professional Musicians Local 47 AFL-CIO Tel 323-993-3173 Fax 323-469-5864 

Carta do Secretário Geral Assistente do Sindicato dos Músicos Britânicos (British Musicians’ Union) para o Presidente da FOSB by Antonio J Augusto on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 7:53pm Sr. Eleazar de Carvalho Presidente da Fundação Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira. 17 de março de 2011. Caro Senhor, Fomos informados sobre sua intenção em reorganizar a Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira através de uma audição a que todos os músicos deveriam ser submetidos. Embora o objetivo possa ser o de melhorar a qualidade da orquestra, este processo no nosso ponto de vista é inapropriado e pode, em verdade, se prova contra produtivo. Todas as orquestras mais representativas do mundo possuem uma longa tradição de diálogo social. Este diálogo é crucial tanto para prevenir conflitos, como na resolução de vários problemas que podem acontecer na rotina diária de uma orquestra. Eu quero também lembrar que todos os músicos passaram por uma audição antes de assumirem suas posições na orquestra. Desde então, eles estão atuando sobre os palcos toda a semana, o que também representa uma outra forma de audição. Re-audicionar todos estes músicos será unicamente um desnecessário, um teste extremamente estressante, incapaz dar uma imagem acurada das qualidades e talentos destes músicos. Finalmente, e o mais principal, a personalidade artística de uma orquestra é o resultado de um processo de longo prazo que depende não somente nas qualidades individuais, mas também na profundidade do trabalho realizado diariamente pela orquestra como um todo, assim como nas opções artísticas definidas por seu diretor musical. Eu acredito firmemente que é possível conciliar o seu objetivo de melhorar a qualidade da orquestra com as legítimas expectativas de seus músicos. Para terminar, eu clamo para o seu envolvimento nas discussões com as lideranças dos músicos o mais rápido possível, com a intenção de juntos identificarem a melhor maneira de alcançar o nível de excelência que é igualmente desejado por ambas as partes. Fazendo isto, o senhor maximizará as chances de ser bem sucedido na renovação da orquestra, para o mutual beneficio de todos os envolvidos neste processo, incluindo o público. A comunidade mundial dos músicos não entenderia se estes pedidos continuassem a não ser ouvidos. Sinceramente, Horace Trubridge Assistant General Secretary Carta do Gerente Geral da Orquestra Filarmônica de Belgrado, Tasovac Ivan, ao Presidente da FOSB by Antonio J Augusto on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 7:26pm Sr. Eleazar de Carvalho Presidente da Fundacao Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira Av. Rio Branco, 135 sala 915 Centro Rio de Janeiro 20040-006 Caro senhor, Fui informado pela Federação Internacional de Músicos sobre sua decisão de realizar um processo de avaliação de desempenho entre os músicos da Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira. Embora acreditando na sua intenção e objetivo de melhorar a qualidade artística de sua orquestra, devo expressar minha profunda preocupação com a completa inadequação do procedimento a que os músicos da orquestra estarão sujeitos. Acreditamos firmemente que o diálogo e a conversa construtiva são fundamentais para o trabalho de todas as instituições, especialmente em um campo tão específico como as artes e a cultura. Neste caso particular, uma aberta troca de opiniões com os representantes dos músicos é especialmente importante na prevenção de conflitos e resolver problemas que obviamente a sua orquestra está enfrentando. Gostaria também de acrescentar que em todas as orquestras sinfônicas do mundo, cada músico tem que passar por um teste, a fim de ser aceito como parte do conjunto. Assim, não tenho dúvidas de que isso também aconteceu no caso de todos os músicos da Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira. Cada um dos seus concertos representa um teste em si, então esta tentativa de re-audição, só pode resultar em estresse e sofrimento desnecessário para os músicos. Eu acredito fortemente que você, sendo um artista mesmo, pode facilmente reconhecer a iniquidade do seu gesto e da injustiça que você faria aos seus colegas, se você tivesse que começar esta decisão. É por isso que eu também confio que você será capaz de conciliar as expectativas legítimas dos músicos e, ao mesmo tempo, aumentar a qualidade de sua orquestra. Como Gerente Geral de uma orquestra, que compartilha muitos de seus problemas, eu estou pedindo que você inicie o diálogo mútuo logo que possível, a fim de tentar encontrar soluções, e a melhor maneira possível para atingir o níve
l necessário de excelência que é, como acredito, o objetivo comum das duas partes. Atenciosamente, Tasovac Ivan, Gerente Geral Orquestra Filarmônica de Belgrado Sérvia 

Dear Sir, I was informed through the International Federation of Musicians about your decision to undertake the process of performance evaluation among musicians of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra. Although I wish to believe in your intention and goal to improve artistic quality of your orchestra, I must express my deepest concerns about inappropriateness of the complete procedure the orchestra musicians are subjected. We strongly believe that mutual dialogue and constructive conversation is crucial for the work of all institutions, especially in such a specific field as arts and culture. In this particular case, open exchange of opinion with the performers’ representatives is especially important in preventing more conflicts and solving problems which your orchestra is obviously facing. I would also like to add that in all symphonic orchestras in the world, every musician must pass the audition in order to be accepted as the part of an ensemble. So, there is no doubt that this also happened in the case of all musicians from the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra. Each of their concert performance presents an audition itself, so every attempt of re-auditioning can only result with unnecessary stress and grief for the musicians. I strongly believe that you, being an artist yourself, can easily recognize the unfairness of your gesture and injustice you would do to your colleagues if you were to commence this decision. That is why I also trust that you will be able to reconcile legitimate anticipations of the performers, and at the same time, increase the quality of your orchestra. As the General Manager of an orchestra, who shares many of your problems, I am urging you to start with mutual conversations as soon as possible, in order to try to find solutions, and the best possible ways to reach the necessary level of excellence which is, as I believe, the goal of which both sides agree upon. Yours sincerely, Ivan Tasovac, General Manager Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra Serbia
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Comments

  1. Helga Borsztch says:

    Brazil is sovereign country, the 7th, yes, the 7th largest economy in the world. Brazil is not a developing country anymore as many OF YOU think, advices and order from Serbia, UK or US in how to evaluate musicians internally are irrelevant, we do have our own laws which are recognized by all international bodies that regulates such labour laws. Seems to me that your letter and declaration sent to the president of the foundation and posted here is an arranged letter, something between you and those musicians (perhaps some only) that profoundly refuse any evaluation or audition. Almost half, yes, almost HALF of the orchestra already went though the audition process and with not harm and stress, why you do not try to contact those that already went through the process to see how it was?
    You are only listening and considering one side, the ones against the foundation. If you really want to get involved, what you have to say about the threats the conductor have been received anonymously? Indirectly by some musicians or their supporters? Did these institutions UK, Serbia and US know that the conductor had to hire a bodyguard? Did you know that? Have you also investigated that? Or you support such things? It looks like you are supporting something that you are not really aware of it. By the tune and the pitch of your declarations you are backing all these things up.
    These musicians do not want to sit and talk or discuss or follow the requirements, rules and internal bylaws, they just want to harass and make clear that if you mess with them you will have to pay the consequences. This is what we have being hearing in the backstage and corridors, pretty sure who is conveying these things to you is not even mentioning that.
    Did these institutions from UK, US and Serbia argue with the recent auditions in Hungary? Or the ones in Curitiba? Or what about other orchestras with no real contracts of late pay as the OSM in São Paulo? No, definitely not.
    Is very clear here that some are trying to overrule labour laws of Brazil, where an employer can evaluate any employee at anytime, even if he/her is a musician. There is a management team in place at the FBSO which several musicians profoundly refuse to respect. Some are abusive all the time and some even carry guns, they say this is for their self protection but how will you feel to play in orchestra with such colleagues? Have you thought about about that? Is hard to prove this but I heard that from one very reliable source, a musician that does not agree with those actions of general boycott.
    And I also would like to make notice that not all musicians which are today employed by the BSO Foundation, a private institution, were proper evaluated or had a decent auditions in the past, the argument that all were auditioned and evaluated is not true, you feel free to come down and check this out you will confirm what have already confirmed by one the members of the jury here at this pots. The whole process was elaborated in a very civilized way and not with the aim to dismiss anyone but unfortunately this is the message that you are getting at the end of the line, a distorted and disturbed message.

  2. Luciano de Castro says:

    The desperate Minczuk’s acolyte weak and feeble letter is a clear demonstration of how important it was and is to witness the international community stepping in and dismantling for good this gross attempt to disregard the people of Brazil and the musical world alike. It seems that FOSB and OSB director, Mr. Minczuk, are facing the shame they deserve. They are really and profoundly desperate, mainly because now the world knows what kind of person Roberto Minczuk, really is revealing to be and how disrespectfully he treats his peers. The so-called “private” Foundation (FOSB) is heavily funded by BNDES, which is an investment bank of the Federal Government of Brazil (money from the tax payers) and by the Government of the City of Rio de Janeiro (again from taxes paid by the people). The other company is Vale do Rio Doce, a giant conglomerate which has, as its major investors the Federal Government of Brazil, Petrobras, the giant Brazilian petroleum state-owned company and Bank of Brazil, another bank which is majorly controlled by the Federal Government. We, the people of Brazil, have the unmistaken and proper right to supervise the way our money is spent. The FOSB was not funded to finance an autocracy or a despotic institution. The world has changed and Brazil does not endorse or support any kind of dictatorship-like administration funded by us, the people, and our money. We thank the world community again for spreading the news about the anacronic actions Mr. Minczuk has been trying to implement in OSB and strongly condemning them.

  3. Ana Clara says:

    Isn`t it a joke? A musician with a gum in Brazil???? hahahahahahaha It`s funny!
    The half of the “almost half” musicians that went through the audition don`t agree with it at all… They were been harrassed and threatened by letters from the orchestra telling them they would be dismissed. you can find here:
    http://www.facebook.com/notes/antonio-j-augusto/rudolf-kroupa-mais-de-40-anos-dedicado-a-osb-recebe-hoje-sua-carta-amea%C3%A7a-de-dem/1560069015501
    Everybody has children and are very terrified about the power the has been given to the “Biggest Conductor of The World”.
    So you can count with me: more then half orchestra don`t agree with the Maestro, plus almost half of “almost half” musicians that went throught the auditions don`t agree at all (they are just very scarred!), so almost the intire orchestra are against the conductor!
    It`s clearly a person from FOSB writting!
    That why it`s so funny!! hahahahahahahahah

  4. gildemaro says:

    Now this is a lot of borscht, dear Helga! Musicians rehearsing with firearms in their pockets, the poor maestro afraid of violent actions coming from them and so on. Shocking news, if they only would be true…But I can believe Mr. Minczuk considers hiring a bodyguard, simply because he is so wealthy! His salary in the OSB is pretty high, he’s also chief conductor and artistic director of Rio’s Opera House (thus making him Rio’s “little musical Napoleon”, a fact that’s worldwide unique and actually worth another protest action!) and I don’t think he’s doing his job in Calgary or his international guest conducting for free. Considering that Brazil, even being the 7th economy worldwide, also holds the 6th place in the actual global violence rankings, it’s pretty normal that people that rich try to protect themselves the best they can. But since this matter has being brought to discussion, don’t you think that the claim for OSB’s musicians working exclusively for their orchestra is completely incoherent and hypocritical, coming from a conductor who is so busy in Brazil and abroad?
    Mr. Minczuk’s acolytes should start trying to understand what this protest is about instead of badmouthing their contrahents: Is it really so difficult to understand that today a lot of people don’t like such a concentration of power and the arbitrary use of it? Wake up, we have A.D. 2011!

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