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High-flying Asian orchestra runs into heavy weather

We’ve been getting reports that the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra has laid off a concertmaster and eight other players. There are already 20 unfilled vacancies in the ranks.

The problem doesn’t seem to be financial, as there’s plenty of oil sponsorship from Petronas to pay for high-profile recordings and cheap concert seats. There’s a residue of bad blood from the departure of founder-conductor Kees Bakels a few years back, along with complaints against high-handed management.

A Save the Malaysian Orchestra page has been opened on Facebook, but there’s low visibility around in a fog of misinformation. If you know more about the situation, do post below.

Read the latest UPDATE here.

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Comments

  1. Prefer Anonymity says:

    The report is true, and disturbing. Concertmaster, Associate Concertmaster, Princ Tympnist, Princ Trombone, Princ Pianist – all founding members of the MPO, 14 years of flawless dedication to the job and community involvement through many outreach programs, all to be ‘dismissed’ without reason. Most of the above have started families here, with children. A married couple comprising of violin and viola, around 10 to 12 years each in the orchestra, met in the MPO and with a child. One of them apparently was past Chairman of the Orchestra Council, which was suddenly ‘not recognized’ completely by new management. Both to be dismissed, again, without any reason given. Section violist, possibly founding member, apparently over age 55 so may be forcibly retired. Percussionist, also a member of the past Orchestra Council. Again, dismissed at the end of current contract with no reason given. The current music director is Claus Peter Flor, who succeeded Matthias Bammert, the previous director who took over after founder-conductor Kees Bakels..

  2. This is shocking! Are they able to continue the season under such circumstance?

  3. Yes, it is true. I am a Malaysian myself who often watch performances by the Malaysia Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) and I am very concern about these issues that has been going on for quite sometimes ever since the CEO was taken up by a new person who just happened to think investing in music is a waste of money and time (so I was told). I don’t even know where to start to tell all the things that happened to the musicians of MPO who has been suffering this injustice. All local musicians want to save the orchestra, however, we, musicians are the minority in Malaysia and the majority of other people share the same mind set as the new CEO which cause all of us musicians, a great deal of trouble in saving our community. There used to be someone in the higher position who voice out musicians’ concerns, but I heard (not sure how far of it is true) that the CEO didn’t want that position anymore for she doesn’t want to hear any “voices” of the musicians…

  4. Graeme Brown says:

    How disturbing! I’m a musician in Sydney, Australia. You say the new CEO thinks that investing in music is a waste of time ……….. then why is she there at all? Perhaps she should find an alternative place of employment because, if what you say is true, she is clearly clueless about the industry in which she is engaged. Probably another MBA graduate with a demigod mentality, full of theories and absolutely no empathy. Best wishes to all of you!

  5. Chris Frankland says:

    I’m saddened but not surprised. Heavy handed mismanagement seems unfortunately to be a Malaysian hallmark. Kees did a brilliant job,but once he left, there was a noticeable decline in morale, which was clear through the music, and only seemed to revert to great standards when a good guest conductor came in. If the orchestra does collapse, it will be a national embarassment (there seem to be rather a lot of them these days), and the music community, young and old, will be deprived of something irreplaceable. I’m in education, and I have already booked 30 seats for a group of students to attend the Beatles concert next month. MPO management, pull your finger out, stop being so bloody high handed and pompous, and get on with the job you are supposed to be doing…..supporting and leading a national institution.

    • Mervyn Philbert says:

      did you know kees fired 35 musicians????how you can say he did a brilliant job.

    • Mervyn Philbert says:

      Did you know kees fired 35 musicians????how you can say he did a brilliant job but now 8 people is saddened to you.

      • Although KX tried to fire 35, it didn’t happen because the musicians stood against it and he backed down (although ultimately someone was still fired…but not 35). KX was never easy to work with because of his humanly uncompromising method but musically everyone can tell you how satisfying it was, the problem was that the management did not appreciate that because he failed at lobbying support from the patrons (i am not sure but perhaps he didn’t care enough to try). CXX however is backed up by a former high ranking officer who was back for sweet revenge on the “old remnants” of KX successful period. Does this make anyone of them more ethical than the other? No. But i believe CXX is only working to save his own ass, because whatever he is doing is probably more to the benefit of the management (which does not know anything about music nor care to know more).

        • Mervyn Philbert says:

          He backed down??? Are you sure? Do you know how many court cases??? You better find out clear before you talk, or if you are the Malaysia Philharmonic Musician then I will not say anything anymore.

          • Orchestral musician says:

            I cannot comprehend this statement: “he backed down”.
            Are you sure he did? I’ve worked with KB many, many times in another orchestra. I have never seen him “back down” from any position against a member of the orchestra, soloist, management or board of directors. What Mei Chung stated is spot on.

          • no one is better than anyone in this case….and you are right, KX was not better from an ethical perspective. why is he not asked by any other orchestra? no powerful agent, too tiring for cities with unions and simply not interested to lobby (as you said, he never backed down, which meant that he probably never stucked up too) the REAL question here is…will the orchestra continue to dismiss without giving a reason, to any musician in the orchestra, malaysian, or not? will future contracts be changed to not allow this kind of dismissal to happen again?

          • by the way does anyone know what the “official” reason for the dismissals were?

          • Just an opinion says:

            No reasons given as far as I know.
            And that is exactly the difference to Kees a few years back.
            At that time Kees voiced artistic concerns and there was a fair re-audition process.
            Some players failed but others passed and got renewed.

          • bone founder says:

            Actually I was there back in those days and 25 people were re-auditioned due to artistic concerns. Kees never backed down and he never will. In the end 12 of those people were asked to leave and in my opinion it made the orchestra better once the new musicians arrived. Now in this case it is not at all the same situation, this is personal revenge from KPF and it will not improve to level of the orchestra. In fact all that bad press is not doing anything to help the situation and reputation of the MPO. It is a real shame.

    • How do you know there was a decline in morale after Kees left? Are you a musician in the orchestra? Kees was a tyrant and a control freak who was not a nice person. He also didn’t like anyone who spoke out against him. He rehearsed to no end for his own benefit. The drop in moral in the orchestra was not because of Kees, but because of what he did to the orchestra. You shouldn’t speak with such knowledge of the situation when you obviously don’t know anything about the inner dealings of the MPO! It is dangerous to work in a foreign orchestra with no union or organization looking out for the rights of the musicians. That is common knowledge in the field. The recent firings are completely unjust and unfortunate. However, there is also a law that states that foreigners aren’t allowed to work in the orchestra for more than 10 years. Many have somehow surpassed that time with no problem. There is also a law that one has to retire at age 55. They seem to be enforcing that one. I would imagine the orchestra members are all on pins and needles about their future in the MPO, as the laws they choose to enforce are selective.

      • Mervyn Philbert says:

        Totally agree, and who is Kees in the musical world? Who and which orchestra is inviting Kees?

        • Orchestral musician says:

          I’ve wondered about this myself. He seems to have disappeared from the musical scene in Canada and the U.S. I think he still conducts in Holland.

        • another orchestra musician says:

          Why, Mervyn Philbert, are you denigrating Kees Bakels? On what basis do you suggest he is not esteemed amongst his peers? Have you, yourself, musical knowledge sufficient to allow you to evaluate his work?

          Few people who actually know Kees or have worked with him will say he is an easy fellow to get along with. The very large majority of these, however, concur in judging him to be a highly skilled musician and an outstanding symphony conductor.

          Chances are good that if you, yourself, were a regular MPO concert-goer during Kees’ tenure, and that if you frequently attend symphony performances in major cities throughout the world, you would report that Kees, in Kuala Lumpur built a remarkably fine ensemble in a short space of time.

          • Mervyn Philbert says:

            I worked with Kees few times in Finland, for sure I have the knowledge to say so, and all the big agent in the world also can tell you the same, from the concert he appeal in the world you can tell how good and how important he is. If you say some people say he is easy fellow I understand because everyone has a different taste,for me he is a second hand metronome. I will still ask you if he is a outstanding conductor, please show everyone where he is conduct now, New York Phil??? Berlin Phil??? Or…..

      • Prefer Anonymity says:

        Mei chung: Are you sure there is a law stating ‘no more than 10 years’ in the orchestra for foreigners? That sounds quite unlikely. Some years ago, the orchestra implemented a bonus (1 time payment) for players that reached their 10 year anniversary in the orchestra – encouraging them to stay for at least that long, and beyond. There are many musicians in the MPO who have surpassed that point and reported receiving this, and if it was “law” it would have caused an issue quite some time ago. Please state your source on that, if you know the statutes in Malaysian Law, or have any way to find this out. It would be an unfortunately negative rumor to circulate, for Malaysian reputation, if it is not the case.

  6. concerned and shocked says:

    Graeme,
    The CEO has not been chosen because of her knowledge about the music industry. She is as much qualified to run an orchestra like you would be to run an oil platform. Her main task is saving money and transforming the orchestra from “international” to “local”. Quality does not matter anymore.

    The need to save money seems ridiculous considering Petronas posted a Net profit of ca. 55 billion Ringgit (about 18 billion US$) in 2011.

    There is certainly a lot of political pressure to employ more Malaysians, saving money, to downsize or even shut down the orchestra.
    The new contracts came out with a cut of salary and benefits. There are now ca. 30 vacancies. Who wants to join under such circumstances?
    It’s deteriorating rather fast and the damage done now will be irreparable.

    The orchestra was founded ca. 14 years ago with the aim to create a World class orchestra. The former prime minister and former Petronas chairman supported this project but things have changed dramatically since, especially in the upper management of Petronas.

    This latest episode however seems to be of rather personal nature; closely linked to the highly controversial renewal of current music director Claus Peter Flor.
    The music director holds almost absolute power. He can hire and fire at will.
    Looking at the list of effected people it is pretty clear that this is a personal revenge. It is a list of exceptional musicians and personalities who dared to oppose the music director’s questionable politics, corrupt practices and his renewal.

    My prayers go out to the effected musicians and their families!

    • Mervyn Philbert says:

      Have you seen the Music Director’s contract? How you know he can hire and fire at will? You are just telling rubbish here.

  7. David Holbrooke says:

    The situation at the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra is very troubling. As Norman mentioned, there’s a lot of bad blood from the departure of Kees Bakels in his role as conductor laureate (but that is another story in and of itself). The root of the current MPO problems is Music Director Claus Peter Flor. The morale of the orchestra has been in one continuous spiral downward ever since Flor took over as music director in 2008. When his contract was up for renewal last year, several musicians spoke out against him. Now Flor is getting revenge by firing those musicians who were the most outspoken and opposed his renewal. The truth is that if Flor fired everyone who opposes him, then he would end up firing most of the orchestra. Unfortunately, without a musicians’ union in Malaysia, the musicians have zero protection. I am an expatriate in Malaysia, long-time fan of the orchestra, and I have gotten to know many current and former MPO musicians and staff. I salute Petronas for funding this “hidden gem” in Malaysia and hope that the MPO can recover from this setback. What a shame to let one person destroy an orchestra!

  8. Orchestral musician says:

    This is just business as usual.
    Kees Bakels fired more than 30 MPO musicians during his reign as Music Director. Why is there so much outcry now? Also, James Judd was hired, and then abruptly “un-hired” as music director when Bakels left.

    • Mervyn Philbert says:

      Exactly, when Kees fire more than 30 musicians he is a hero, but now 8 musicians got fired become a big mess, maybe because the musicians got fired now are all Kees’s friend?

      • First of all, Kees was not the founder. He was simply “hired” like the rest of the people to work in a new orchestra. He was not even the first choice. Tortelier was and turned the job down, unfortunately. Kees was involved in hiring the musicians, along with a panel of musicians. He was the one that decided who he wanted in the orchestra, only to admit to being wrong in choosing the 35 that he fired two and a half years later. He actually fired the principal flute within a year. He actually never admitted to being wrong in his choices. His way of hiring was to “promise” and appoint positions to his “friends”, however he made them. Mervyn Philbert is right. Many of those fired were Kees’ friends. It’s no wonder that the MPO has so many problems when it has such a shady history to begin with–starting from the top!

        • another orchestra musician says:

          It is well to point out that music directors – orchestra conductors – are rarely the founders of large symphony orchestras, but instead are employees of the same entities that employ everyone else in such an organisation. A Music Director will typically be given contractual authority, and responsibility for its proper use, greater than that granted to most other employees in the organisation. Nonetheless, a Music Director only in rare cases actually creates and owns a large symphony orchestra, and is able to do with it entirely as he pleases.

          Why it is that you, Mei Chung, are using the present forum to air your venom toward Kees Bakels is not clear. Kees has no involvement with the current round of dismissals.

          Consider also that in many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, the percentage of musicians successfully completing their probation period and being granted tenure is 60% – 80%. Being granted a first contract is by no means a guarantee of lifelong employment, no more than is presumed friendship with the orchestra’s Music Director.

          On the other hand, decade-long, widely-admired, committed service to an orchestra and its community do, generally carry a certain assurance of continued employment, or at the very least, of gentle handling in the event severance were to become necessary.

          Perhaps you are in possession of up-to-date, accurate information regarding the current state of affairs, onstage and off, at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas. If you are, sharing such information with the rest of us could be usefully instructive. Certainly the employees of DFP, including the musicians of the MPO, are barred by contract from communicating such information. Your contribution could thus prove doubly useful.

          Should your ambition be to speak ill of symphony conductors and their behaviour, be assured that a modicum of research will lead you to vast troves of source material. Spoiler alert: Claus Peter Flor is at least as bitterly complained about as Kees Bakels is.

    • another orchestra musician says:

      It is not just business as usual. Kees dismissed players because he judged their skill level insufficient. He subsequently designated more capable ones to replace them. During Kees’ tenure, the MPO management took pains to keep the ensemble at full strength.

      The musicians recently laid off include demonstrably some of the MPO’s best and most committed. No credible argument can be made that artistic considerations lay at the root of their dismissal. Further, the MPO has not been kept at full strength for some years now, neither onstage nor off. Even were the MPO management henceforth determined to return the Orchestra to full strength, it would be functionally incapable of achieving this, because the management itself no longer possesses the competencies requisite to holding auditions and evaluating the candidates. Moreover, because most serious musicians are wary of applying to an orchestra that does not appear dedicated to ensuring the well-being of all its component parts, the quality of musicians that might in the relatively near future express interest in joining the MPO is likely to be significantly lower than it was in years past.

  9. Violin student & architect says:

    I don’t know anything about the going ons within the PMO, but I have been going to PMO concerts quite regularly ever since it was founded. Petronas has done a good job in making the orchestra accessible to the masses with ticket prices the cheapest you could find anywhere in the world probably. so for this I think Petronas has done a great service to the people of Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur. It would be a great shame if the MPO was to decline in its ability to produce great quality music. I can understand the need to make this national philharmonic orchestra more local but the quality of musical talent should not be compromised and musicians should not be discriminated based on their nationality, it probably is a delicate balancing act to do this. Petronas should prioritise and address the problem engulfing the PMO right now, and not neglect this wonderful thing that they have given the people of KL. If they can spend the kinda of money they do on Formula 1 racing, the money they would need to spend here to address the problems of the MPO would just be a tiny fraction of what they spend in motor sports. that is important of course for petronas’ international profile/ reputation and advertising, but this MPO is very very important performing arts gem that should get Petronas’ undevided attention. Get your act together please Petronas!!!

    • long time subscription holder says:

      I agree. I have been enjoying the MPO concerts since the beginning and thank DFP for building and equipping this wonderful concert hall and populating it with such a great orchestra which has truly been a sum of all the parts. I have noticed this season that the orchestra is smaller by quite a few and the numbers in the audience are, at times, painfully thin on the ground. The programmes are not as well done and seem cut & paste unlike those prepared by Marc Rochester which were definitely keepers. I was also very surprised too, that the dress code was very much relaxed this year which, combined with the reduced audience numbers, gave me a sense of disquiet.
      I am very sad and disappointed that this is happening to the MPO. These musicians who have been shown the door are people I have watched and enjoyed over the years and I listen particularly for their contributions. I do hope this matter can be resolved, but warn that it will not be easy to generate a huge public outcry. There are many other scandals out there that are more interesting to the Malaysian public, not generally noted for their love of classical music.

  10. Antony from singapore says:

    I just wondering why everyone discussing how good between two Music Directors, it has nothing to do with both of them.

  11. concerned Malaysian says:

    The catastrophe that has been made by the management does not only affect the MPO musicians. It also affects the local community. As a Malaysian, I am ashamed that this “Season of inspiring musical journey” (MPO’s publicity tagline for this season) has inspired a lot of bitterness, hatred, heartbreak and disappointment. Musicians who have been serving and actively contributing to a country’s artistic development for many years should not be treated like this, regardless of expat or local status.

    Now, why should I purchase that ‘I LOVE MPO’ merchandize/propaganda from a company that does not love its own orchestra? I am sure the MPO musicians who have to pass these ‘I LOVE MPO’ banners/posters on the way into work find it such an irony and a slap in the face as well.

    • Gustav Mahler says:

      I agree all the way. If the Managemnt are unable to love its own orchestra they just have to sack/dismiss/terminate themselves.

  12. Mervyn Philbert? I wonder.

    MERVYN Peters was an excellent orchestra personnel manager for many years who loved the orchestra and worked hard to make it the best possible.
    It was not surprising that his moral integrity would clash with the questionable methods C.P.Flor was operating with.
    After the recent change of management (and renewal of C.P. Flor) Mervyn’s contract was not renewed.

    Paul PHILBERT is the princ. Timpanist , founding member and one of the musicians not getting renewed now. Impossible to question his artistic qualification or his dedication to the orchestra.

    Personally I find the choice of your handle tasteless and disgusting.

    It’s obvious that you are one of the few musicians who are benefiting from C.P.Flor’s corrupt practices.
    The difference between Kees and Flor? They are both good conductors and complicated personalities but Kees was not corrupt. Surely difficult but honest.
    The decisions Kees made were focused on the artistic improvement of the orchestra.
    The choices Flor made are for his own benefit only.

    • Antony from singapore says:

      Mervyn Peters? You sure he is a great manager? Have you ever heard he was under investigation? Do you know what the report says? Maybe you should find out, as I know it is very bad.

      • Mervyn Philbert says:

        Wow, Antony, you know a lot of things which seems like top secret.
        Let them say whatever they want, I do use a fake name, and I am a musician from Finland but if they think I am from Malaysia let them do.

        • Brian Griffin says:

          isn’t it lovely that people are only able to voice their opinions and beliefs when they are using fake names. Malaysian customs at its best!

        • MP – All the Finns I have met speak excellent English unlike yourself and it’s interesting that you are so familiar with the names of the MPO personnel. Be careful you write just like you speak.

          • Mervyn Philbert says:

            This website has become a personal attack page, you can’t stand other people speak out the opposite,I’m curious where democracy has been? Maybe it never had in Malaysia.

        • Jin Zhenhong says:

          Dear Mervyn Philbert:
          Please tell everyone your real name, these people here now are attacking me, I am the member of MPO, and just got this site address from my colleague today afternoon, I don’t want common anything here but also don’t want be blamed with any reason!!!

          Dear Michael King,
          Please also aware your words common on this site, as I told Mervyn Philbert, I don’t think I have anything to do here, if you have any problem with me please tell me but I don‘t want involve with any of these things, and if you keep attack me personally I will take it as a personal harassment.

      • another orchestra musician says:

        Here once again, an individual who is in no way involved in the current operations of Dewan Filharmonik Petronas or the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra is being sullied. Dear Antony from Singapore, if you are in possession of verifiable information that substantiates your insinuation Mr. Mervyn Peters is or was involved in wrongdoing, feel free to present it to the relevant authorities.

        If you imagine, even for a moment, that anonymous, unsubstantiated allegations will be taken seriously by readers of this forum, who are in overwhelming majority well-educated, and wise to ways of Internet trolls, you are deceiving yourself.

        To Mervyn Philbert as well: if you are indeed Finnish, and a professional symphony musician, please present your credentials. Should you possess accurate, substantiated, up-to-date information relevant to the current operations of DFP / MPO, feel welcome to share it with the rest of us. If your aim is merely to sully, by means of anonymous insinuation, the reputations of individuals previously involved with DFP / MPO, know that by so doing, you in fact sully only yourself.

  13. Brian Griffin says:

    I couldn’t help myself to notice that Mervyn Philbert seems to have a lot of insight in the current situation. Do you work for the management of the MPO? If you are, maybe you could give us an explanation of why the contracts of these outstanding musicians were not renewed? If you are not, in fact working for the MPO management, how else would you have this level of insight into the contract of the current music director Claus Peter Flor? It would be nice to hear the truth, at least for once…

  14. It surely is tasteless and disgusting. It started with France, then Chicago, and now Finland.

  15. Michael King says:

    Mervyn Philbert – being a seasoned Finnish symphony musician, as you state (who knew, that the corruption of English in Finland, is the same as in Shanghai?!), you will be interested to know, regarding the powers of the conductor in MPO, in the area of hiring and firing is indeed true. (How you know?????)
    The Principal Viola chair, just for example – was a travesty of artistic integrity in the awarding. The members of the viola section of MPO were asked, not once, but FOUR times to vote on the acceptance of this player – and received four UNANIMOUS NO VOTES. Subsequently the string principals voted in similar fashion. The maestro was able to ignore this vote completely (and his conscience, apparently), since he perceived this person to be ‘loyal’ to him. You may have noticed, on the Save the Malaysian Orchestra Facebook page, that this individual has come to the immediate defense of Maestro Flor, on several occasions, at the slightest hint of criticism of his master, like a good puppy. I suggest you focus on Finland, since it is so very far away from Malaysia.

    • Jin Zhenhong says:

      Dear Mervyn Philbert:
      Please tell everyone your real name, these people here now are attacking me, I am the member of MPO, and just got this site address from my colleague today afternoon, I don’t want common anything here but also don’t want be blame with no reasons!!!

      Dear Michael King,
      Please also aware your words common on this site, as I told Mervyn Philbert, I don’t think I have anything to do here, if you have any problem with me please tell me but I don‘t want involve with any of these things, and if you keep attack me personally I will take it as a personal harassment.

    • Today I have just heard that there were similar voting situation, an unaimous no vote with the new concertmaster that is on trial now. Does anyone know what the end result of the trial ???

      • @concerned, this is correct.

        The newly appointed concertmaster, Anna Reszniak, received a clear majority of NO-votes from the section, principals and orchestra at every stage of the audition, trial and probation process.
        But here in Malaysia that does not matter. The music director got the power to appoint people at will.

        There have been some nasty rumors why C.P.Flor wants her so badly but after the recent developments it seems she was brought in first and foremost to make the unjustified dismissal of the long standing concertmaster possible.

        Dirty politics at its best.

        • Deja vu, mpo violin. This situation is redolent of the one concerning Karajan and Sabine Meyer, the distinguished clarinettist vis-a-vis his equally distinguished orchestra, the Berliners which led to no love lost between them. Karajan, of course had a beady eye for nubile lasses, both Occidental and Oriental. Does the name Sumi Jo ring a bell?

          • Deja vu?
            Although your comparison with the Berlin Philharmonic is flattering there are very little similarities here.
            I don’t think Sabine Meyer’s general musicianship and playing level was ever questioned.
            Also Flor is certainly not a Karajan.

  16. MPO Holocaust says:

    Dear Norman, Ladies and Gentlemen, and ass hats using strange aliases and making ignorant and completely false commentary:

    First of all, it is a matter of common knowledge that the whole of Malaysia is hopelessly infested with corrupt money hungry pigs in positions of power, from the police on the street right up to the highest levels of government. A few hundred Malaysian ringgit slipped to the right person in Malaysia can get you out of just about any kind of trouble you manage to get yourself into from traffic violations to possibly even murder. In Malaysia, ringgit is King. The people who are currently directly in charge of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra are no exception. They are vain corrupt bullies who maneuver with little to no accountability whatsoever. The MPO is barely visible on the multibillion-dollar budget spreadsheet of Petronas and some of the people at the very top aren’t even aware that an orchestra at KLCC even exists! It is a fact that more than 60% of the entire countries wealth comes for this one company. According to Fortune 500, Petronas is the 13th most profitable company in the world, and the most profitable in Asia.

    Truth be told, the current CEO of MPO, Nor Raina Abdullah, was installed by and answers only to one Juniwati Rahmat Hussin, a former disgruntled MPO CEO who completely despises the orchestra and seemingly everything Western. Ms. Juniwati (who has done quite well climbing the corporate ladder of Petronas since her stint with MPO) incidentally now just happens to be vice president of Human Resources for all of Petronas, is the highest paid woman in the company, and serves as acting President of Petronas when the current President is overseas/unavailable. When she appointed her successor, Karina Ridzuan, she personally instructed Ms. Karina to ‘come up with a five year exit strategy for the MPO’. Ms. Karina ignored the instruction and instead helped the MPO flourish; personally attending almost every performance and creating the first ever team environment between the staff and musicians. The MPO did a lot of meaningful outreach during this time and was really starting to grow roots in the community outside of the twin towers for the first time. Frustrated that Ms. Karina was disobeying a direct order to begin shutting down the MPO, Ms. Juniwati chopped 20 million RM from the MPO/DFP budget. In spite of this huge cut, the MPO continued to succeed. Subscriptions and attendance were up higher than ever and MPO enjoyed it’s most successful gala concert in history in 2010. The doors were swung open for local musicians to collaborate with MPO musicians creating a vital synergy with the community that had never before existed. The MPO was picking up momentum and there was clearly only one person in the way of it’s eminent success; Claus Peter Flor. His relentless abuse of the staff and musicians was taking a huge toll on morale and Ms. Karina knew this. The orchestra was polled via private ballot and north of 80% of the orchestra (not surprisingly) voted not to renew Mr. Flor’s contract. Knowing full well that not renewing Mr. Flor may cause her to be swiftly removed or even fired (because it was Juniwati who hired him and they remain the closest of friends due to their common goal of destroying the orchestra), Karina dealt with this head-on. Ms. Karina did not renew Mr. Flor and, in an effort to safeguard this decision (or at least make it difficult to reverse), she made sure to announce in the season brochure that the 2011/2012 season would be his last.

    When Ms. Juniwati learned of Mr. Flor’s non-renewal, she immediately put Karina on notice that she would be ‘re-assigned’ very soon (without any explanation being given) and a new CEO would be coming in immediately to ‘shadow’ her. That person was Nor Raina Abdullah, the current CEO. Days later, the Head of DFP Operations and the Director of Development were suspended, their offices sealed, and their computers collected in a huge undeserved and demoralizing spectacle. In the meantime, MPO musicians respectfully petitioned the board to reconsider their decision to remove Karina and cited many examples of the great work that she’d been doing. Their petitions went unanswered. The orchestra then wrote to the Patron, Mahathir’s Mohamed’s wife, and thought that she too chose to remain silent, until the orchestra later got confirmation that Ms. Juniwati had intentionally intercepted the Patron’s response to the MPO Musicians which they received a copy of months later.
    In November, the entire MPO orchestra and staff were called up to a conference room on the 41st floor of tower 1 in KLCC where the Chairman of the MPO board (a board that had only met a single time during the entire 13 years of the orchestra’s existence) held what he referred to as his own ‘town hall’ meeting. Elevator full by elevator full they were escorted upstairs by Petronas security. Supposedly, there was about 150 MPO/DFP staff and musicians seated when Ms. Juniwati and Mr. Flor entered the room nearly arm-in-arm with a full Petronas security detail of about a dozen officers. Basically, the Chairman told the musicians to ‘butt out of management affairs’ and focus on their music. He went on to state that it was completely normal for Petronas staff to be suddenly re-assigned. He refused to take any questions (obviously not having any clue what the meaning of a ‘town hall meeting’ really is) and everyone was released with their heads hung low. There is an audio bootleg of this meeting and I have heard it.

    The very next day after this ‘town hall’ (and one and a half months premature) Ms. Karina was told to pack up her office and leave immediately. The Board Chairman sent an email to the entire organization that day announcing Nor Raina as CEO ‘with immediate effect’. Her first order of business: notifying the orchestra through her very nervous staff that musicians were no longer allowed to come into the office because they are a security risk. From that point on, if a musician needed to speak with any of the staff, they need to make an appointment first and then wait at the security desk until that staff member came out to retrieve them. Two weeks after that, Mervyn Peters (orchestra personnel manager for MPO for 13 years) was given notice that his contract would not be renewed. The same week it was leaked that Mr. Flor’s contract was renewed. The week after that, General Manager Frank Dans resigned.

    Around this same time, the Chairman of the MPO Musician’s Council attempted to schedule a meeting to meet with the Ms. Nor Raina and, from what I understand, she refused to meet saying the she didn’t recognize it as a legitimate committee of any kind. He is one of the 9 people who were fired last week.

    In January, Kees Bakels flew to KL from Belgium to conduct the MPO for two weeks. Being the founding Music Director of the MPO, he was understandably concerned about what was going on. In a meeting with CEO Ms. Raina, Kees (then Conductor Laureate of MPO) explained that his association with Mr. Flor was becoming problematic and exhausting, as he was constantly being approached and queried about Mr. Flor’s actions. Ms. Raina pounced on that opportunity to fire him, and then blackmailed him by threatening not to pay his return travel home unless he signed a waiver that he would not pursue a legal matter against MPO. Kees, being a class act, left the matter completely alone… at least so far. MPO Management has recently lost two legal battles and apparently they didn’t want another one. Both James Judd and Kim Sargent won their claims against MPO for wrongful dismissal.

    Since Kees’s termination in January, the MPO has been Claus Peter Flor’s world and things have been in an aggressive downward spiral. His concerts haven’t been able to draw more than 500 people into the hall and it’s become pretty clear that concertgoers are starting to catch a whiff of what kind of person he really is. Mr. Flor has a few lunch/dinner/coffee goons within the orchestra with whom he had wrongfully confided that ‘he knew which people in the orchestra were most against him and that he would have his revenge’. He has obviously held true to his promise. However, he has made a gross miscalculation because Mr. Flor obviously doesn’t see the fact that, after the MPO Management is finished having him do their ‘wet work’ for them, they will undoubtedly dispose of him post haste. As for his goons, these people are well aware that they don’t have the goods to win other jobs, so they just want to ride the MPO to the ground while staying as safe as possible.

    So, who are the real losers here you ask? Malaysians and Malaysians only. There is definitely no question about this.

    For 13 years, Malaysians could go to the most beautiful buildings in the world (in my opinion) and hear truly world-class performances of the greatest music ever written. The dedicated men and women of the Malaysian Philharmonic were highly skilled curators in a museum of the finest art ever created. Art that has survived centuries that isn’t seen, but can inspire images in the mind far more fantastic than anything created with a brush. While offstage, they mentored young aspiring Malaysians and enthusiastically shared and encouraged the joy of music. Malaysians had their very own musical Smithsonian Institute right in their backyard and it is now being maliciously bulldozed right before their very eyes. Do they care? Perhaps some do. Will they actually do anything to try and stop the madness? Most likely not. The MPO is now past the tipping point and, with public assembly being illegal in Malaysia, people are not likely to demonstrate.

    While the MPO is left to bleed out and it’s musicians (and their families) forced from their homes in Malaysia to search the globe for work elsewhere at enormous emotional and financial expense, you can rest assured that there undoubtedly very large amounts of cash changing hands between a select group of perverted scumbags who take pleasure in other people’s pain and sorrow. There is and always has been only one thing that inspires people to be so needlessly evil and ruthless. Money… and lots of it.

    So there you have it. A true and very sad story.

    On the upside, I have no doubt that the musicians will eventually rise above all of this and re-invent themselves in new situations because that’s what all artists do. In the end, their lives will be infinitely better living outside of Malaysia. But the scumbags who caused this will simply continue their miserable existences until the day comes when they ultimately reap only what they have sown. This will be one fine day indeed.

  17. MPO Holocaust says:

    Dear Norman, Ladies and Gentlemen, and ass hats using strange aliases and making ignorant and completely false commentary:

    First of all, it is a matter of common knowledge that the whole of Malaysia is hopelessly infested with corrupt money hungry pigs in positions of power, from the police on the street right up to the highest levels of government. A few hundred Malaysian ringgit slipped to the right person in Malaysia can get you out of just about any kind of trouble you manage to get yourself into from traffic violations to possibly even murder. In Malaysia, ringgit is King. The people who are currently directly in charge of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra are no exception. They are vain corrupt bullies who maneuver with little to no accountability whatsoever. The MPO is barely visible on the multibillion-dollar budget spreadsheet of Petronas and some of the people at the very top aren’t even aware that an orchestra at KLCC even exists! It is a fact that more than 60% of the entire countries wealth comes for this one company. According to Fortune 500, Petronas is the 13th most profitable company in the world, and the most profitable in Asia.

    Truth be told, the current CEO of MPO, Nor Raina Abdullah, was installed by and answers only to one Juniwati Rahmat Hussin, a former disgruntled MPO CEO who completely despises the orchestra and seemingly everything Western. Ms. Juniwati (who has done quite well climbing the corporate ladder of Petronas since her stint with MPO) incidentally now just happens to be vice president of Human Resources for all of Petronas, is the highest paid woman in the company, and serves as acting President of Petronas when the current President is overseas/unavailable. When she appointed her successor, Karina Ridzuan, she personally instructed Ms. Karina to ‘come up with a five year exit strategy for the MPO’. Ms. Karina ignored the instruction and instead helped the MPO flourish; personally attending almost every performance and creating the first ever team environment between the staff and musicians. The MPO did a lot of meaningful outreach during this time and was really starting to grow roots in the community outside of the twin towers for the first time. Frustrated that Ms. Karina was disobeying a direct order to begin shutting down the MPO, Ms. Juniwati chopped 20 million RM from the MPO/DFP budget. In spite of this huge cut, the MPO continued to succeed. Subscriptions and attendance were up higher than ever and MPO enjoyed it’s most successful gala concert in history in 2010. The doors were swung open for local musicians to collaborate with MPO musicians creating a vital synergy with the community that had never before existed. The MPO was picking up momentum and there was clearly only one person in the way of it’s eminent success; Claus Peter Flor. His relentless abuse of the staff and musicians was taking a huge toll on morale and Ms. Karina knew this. The orchestra was polled via private ballot and north of 80% of the orchestra (not surprisingly) voted not to renew Mr. Flor’s contract. Knowing full well that not renewing Mr. Flor may cause her to be swiftly removed or even fired (because it was Juniwati who hired him and they remain the closest of friends due to their common goal of destroying the orchestra), Karina dealt with this head-on. Ms. Karina did not renew Mr. Flor and, in an effort to safeguard this decision (or at least make it difficult to reverse), she made sure to announce in the season brochure that the 2011/2012 season would be his last.

    When Ms. Juniwati learned of Mr. Flor’s non-renewal, she immediately put Karina on notice that she would be ‘re-assigned’ very soon (without any explanation being given) and a new CEO would be coming in immediately to ‘shadow’ her. That person was Nor Raina Abdullah, the current CEO. Days later, the Head of DFP Operations and the Director of Development were suspended, their offices sealed, and their computers collected in a huge undeserved and demoralizing spectacle. In the meantime, MPO musicians respectfully petitioned the board to reconsider their decision to remove Karina and cited many examples of the great work that she’d been doing. Their petitions went unanswered. The orchestra then wrote to the Patron, Mahathir’s Mohamed’s wife, and thought that she too chose to remain silent, until the orchestra later got confirmation that Ms. Juniwati had intentionally intercepted the Patron’s response to the MPO Musicians which they received a copy of months later.

    In November, the entire MPO orchestra and staff were called up to a conference room on the 41st floor of tower 1 in KLCC where the Chairman of the MPO board (a board that had only met a single time during the entire 13 years of the orchestra’s existence) held what he referred to as his own ‘town hall’ meeting. Elevator full by elevator full they were escorted upstairs by Petronas security. Supposedly, there was about 150 MPO/DFP staff and musicians seated when Ms. Juniwati and Mr. Flor entered the room nearly arm-in-arm with a full Petronas security detail of about a dozen officers. Basically, the Chairman told the musicians to ‘butt out of management affairs’ and focus on their music. He went on to state that it was completely normal for Petronas staff to be suddenly re-assigned. He refused to take any questions (obviously not having any clue what the meaning of a ‘town hall meeting’ really is) and everyone was released with their heads hung low. There is an audio bootleg of this meeting and I have heard it first hand.

    The very next day after this ‘town hall’ (and one and a half months premature) Ms. Karina was told to pack up her office and leave immediately. The Board Chairman sent an email to the entire organization that day announcing Nor Raina as CEO ‘with immediate effect’. Her first order of business: notifying the orchestra through her very nervous staff that musicians were no longer allowed to come into the office because they are a security risk. From that point on, if a musician needed to speak with any of the staff, they need to make an appointment first and then wait at the security desk until that staff member came out to retrieve them. Two weeks after that, Mervyn Peters (orchestra personnel manager for MPO for 13 years) was given notice that his contract would not be renewed. The same week it was leaked that Mr. Flor’s contract was renewed. The week after that, General Manager Frank Dans resigned.

    Around this same time, the Chairman of the MPO Musician’s Council attempted to schedule a meeting to meet with the Ms. Nor Raina and, from what I understand, she refused to meet saying the she didn’t recognize it as a legitimate committee of any kind. He is one of the 9 people who were fired last week.

    In January, Kees Bakels flew to KL from Belgium to conduct the MPO for two weeks. Being the founding Music Director of the MPO, he was understandably concerned about what was going on. In a meeting with CEO Ms. Raina, Kees (then Conductor Laureate of MPO) explained that his association with Mr. Flor was becoming problematic and exhausting, as he was constantly being approached and queried about Mr. Flor’s actions. Ms. Raina pounced on that opportunity to fire him, and then blackmailed him by threatening not to pay his return travel home unless he signed a waiver that he would not pursue a legal matter against MPO. Kees, being a class act, left the matter completely alone… at least so far. MPO Management has recently lost two legal battles and apparently they didn’t want another one. Both James Judd and Kim Sargent won their claims against MPO for wrongful dismissal.

    Since Kees’s termination in January, the MPO has been Claus Peter Flor’s world and things have been in an aggressive downward spiral. His concerts haven’t been able to draw more than 500 people into the hall and it’s become pretty clear that concertgoers are starting to catch a whiff of what kind of person he really is. Mr. Flor has a few lunch/dinner/coffee goons within the orchestra with whom he had wrongfully confided that ‘he knew which people in the orchestra were most against him and that he would have his revenge’. He has obviously held true to his promise. However, he has made a gross miscalculation because Mr. Flor obviously doesn’t see the fact that, after the MPO Management is finished having him do their ‘wet work’ for them, they will undoubtedly dispose of him post haste. As for his goons, these people are well aware that they don’t have the goods to win other jobs, so they just want to ride the MPO to the ground while staying as safe as possible.
    So, who are the real losers here you ask? Malaysians and Malaysians only. There is definitely no question about this.
    For 13 years, Malaysians could go to the most beautiful buildings in the world (in my opinion) and hear truly world-class performances of the greatest music ever written. The dedicated men and women of the Malaysian Philharmonic were highly skilled curators in a museum of the finest art ever created. Art that has survived centuries that isn’t seen, but can inspire images in the mind far more fantastic than anything created with a brush. While offstage, they mentored young aspiring Malaysians and enthusiastically shared and encouraged the joy of music. Malaysians had their very own musical Smithsonian Institute right in their backyard and it is now being maliciously bulldozed right before their very eyes. Do they care? Perhaps some do. Will they actually do anything to try and stop the madness? Most likely not. The MPO is now past the tipping point and, with public assembly being illegal in Malaysia, people are not likely to demonstrate.

    While the MPO is left to bleed out and it’s musicians (and their families) forced from their homes in Malaysia to search the globe for work elsewhere at enormous emotional and financial expense, you can rest assured that there undoubtedly very large amounts of cash changing hands between a select group of perverted scumbags who take pleasure in other people’s pain and sorrow. There is and always has been only one thing that inspires people to be so needlessly evil and ruthless. Money… and lots of it.

    So there you have it. A true and very sad story.

    On the upside, I have no doubt that the musicians will eventually rise above all of this and re-invent themselves in new situations because that’s what all artists do. In the end, their lives will be infinitely better living outside of Malaysia. But the scumbags who caused this will simply continue their miserable existences until the day comes when they ultimately reap only what they have sown. This will be one fine day indeed.

    • Orchestra musician from Australia says:

      Sad times indeed for MPO, which had the makings of a truly great orchestra. My deepest sympathy and that of many of my colleagues in Brisbane goes out to those colleagues affected in Kuala Lumpur by this outrage.

  18. Malaysian Music Lover says:

    I’m in total utter shock at what MPO holo. has revealed. Thank you for exposing this to the public. Someone should distribute what you just told us to every concert goer at the end of each concert! Perhaps the only thing that can save the MPO now are the people who love to come and watch it perform!

    • MPO Slaughter says:

      The orchestra cannot and never could save itself. Musicians are admonished under threat of termination to not go to the public or the press. Concertgoers and art lovers from the community are the only people who can save MPO and bring much needed sunlight into this situation. Please distribute this information and I recommend filling the concert hall at the next MPO performance conducted by Mr. Flor and booing him until he leaves the stage. This was done to Roberto Minczuk in Brazil after he fired a ton of people there and it was very effective. His irreparable destruction of the MPO certainly doesn’t deserve any applause.

      I hope the community will do something. Empathy is not activism an the MPO desperately needs activism at the moment.

  19. Baroque Bangsar says:

    Has anyone tried writing to the Malaysian Information, Communication and Culture Minister, Dato Sri Rais Yatim. The minister has a facebook page.

    • long time subscription holder says:

      Sorry. You’re wasting your time. That man is a cultural black hole. Witness some of his recent actions and you will know what I mean.

  20. another orchestra musician says:

    Closely related to the thread here is Dr. Marc Rochester’s 20 February 2012 posting on his blog, at:

    http://drmarcrochester.blogspot.com/

    Marc’s lines on this topic are thoughtful and poised, and well worth a read.

  21. JaschaHeifetz says:

    Honestly – I prefer CPF to KB as a conductor. Having watched Karajan, Solti, Abbado, Muti, Tennstedt, Mehta, Jansons, Barenboim etc etc years ago (since 1980), I think CPF is the better conductor as he gets more precision and colour from the MPO compared to KB.

    As for some of the players, people like Paul Philbert (principal timpanist) and Kevin Thompson (principal trombonist) are the very good professional musicians that the MPO needs. To get rid of them is just plain silly.

    Also, I think that the management are dumb. Build up a world class orchestra using the best available foreign talent first is fine. Some of that foreign talent were not up to par (e.g. a hornist – that shan’t be named was just not up to it). So get rid of those that are not up to scratch. Then the management started to get rid of the key foreign orchestral management team as well as top players. Now that is entirely silly. Management of the orchestra does not even know how many symphonies that Beethoven composed. And they tell the people who know this stuff to take a hike.

    Also, the programming has got worse and worse. Next we will be having only “Wayang Kulit” and “Mak Yong” dance at the lovely DFP concert hall. We used to have top acts like Muti, Jansons. Maazel & Blomstedt and the orchestras like the Phildelphia, Leipzig Gewandhaus before. Where are all these shows now?

    You know who will be laughing at the MPO and DFP? The SSO and the Esplanade! The SSO was born earlier and is going to live longer.

    The way it is going – the MPO and DFP are going to go into a terminal and swift demise – unless there is someone here in KL who is willing to do the MPO & DFP an about turn.

    • concerned Malaysian says:

      I agree that the programming has much to be desired these days, but to give Malaysian performing arts as a whole its due respect, perhaps your use of Wayang Kulit and Mak Yong as examples of possible worse programming in the near future should be reconsidered as I find it rather distasteful. The lovely DFP concert hall (which I do agree) is by and large a venue for the arts. I believe that the 9 unfortunate MPO musicians who have spent time understanding the local arts and culture would agree with me. Then again, the Petronas Performing Arts Group (the dance & drama company set up by Petronas to bring Malaysian performing arts to greater heights) has also been dropped from the priority list and is looking at possible abandonment by the management altogether. Goes to show that, on the macro level, the current crisis hits both local and non-local art, as well as the people in it. MPO Holo is right – it’s the money.

      I agree that getting rid of key players and efficient management team of the MPO is definitely suicide. Some of the musicians dismissed have been wonderful ambassadors for the orchestra – from embracing the local language to inspiring young musicians. Good musicians with good intentions should not be treated with such disrespect.

      • Granville Bantock says:

        Placing the future of classical music in any country in the hands of just one listed company is to create a disaster in waiting. Virtually no Symphony Orchestra in the world makes a profit just from its operations. Most have sponsorship or grants from their local councils or arts bodies and make huge efforts to attract corporate donors. Relying on ticket sales alone would put almost every orchestra globally out of business tomorrow.

        Whoever funds these orchestras either need to be numerous enough so that one company can’t arbitrarily change its direction or quality or, funding comes directly from the public purse via local or central government with a clear and transparent mandate.

        The MPO was formed because its then Chairman was passionate about classical music and had a vision to create a world class symphony orchestra. But people die, retire etc and with them the vision usually dies or retires. A company that is no longer driven by people with a passion for the arts is not going to keep paying for a passion they don’t share at the expense of shareholders. It happens all the time, all around the world and in many different sectors.

        I’m sorry to say it but the current situation in one form or another was utterly predictable from the outset.

        The answer is to spread the load. If one were to take the top 20 or 30 Bursa listed companies and get them to fund a new professional symphony orchestra via a trust with an independent Board of Governors and Directors, ensuring that artistic and musical integrity was independently maintained within agreed budgets, then you would have the answer. You would of course have to take race and politics out of it and make sure the best people for the job were retained be they Malay, Chinese, Caucasian or Papua New Guinea Pygmys.

        When a local council in the UK axes an orchestra there can be a public outcry and the councillors listen because if the demand isn’t listened to, they could lose their seats. Apart from the shareholders (and the biggest is the Government anyway), you can’t do the same thing when the funder is a private or public corporation.

        The MPO management may be crass, unfeeling and all the rest of it but the fact remains that from a corporate perspective, if a division of a company is losing money hand over fist, the Board neither understands or is interested in that division’s core product or offering and see no benefit in that division’s contribution to Corporate Social Responsibility, it is going to scale back or close down that division entirely for the benefit of its shareholder dividends.

        So, if everyone reading this REALLY wants to see an extremely good Symphony orchestra prosper in Malaysia, start using your contacts and get ‘feelers’ put out to the CEO’s of Malaysia’s biggest Berhads. Run properly the orchestra will still make a controllable loss but if that subsidy is divided amongst 20 or 30 others, the cost to each is small and none of them would be able to take direct action in the way that Petronas has.

        Don’t blame the owners. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Blame the original structure and make sure that future arts funding in Malaysia is spread so that too much power is never again vested in the hands of one company.

    • You sure you are Heifetz and not Fritz Kreisler? Ok. Jokes aside. I ceased to attend the MPO concerts just at the time Bakels left and his departure coincided with some health problems of mine which made watching a two long live concert quite a chore, so I can’t make any comparisons between Bakels and Claus.
      I know Thor of the Timpani (yup, Paul) personally and regard him as an incredibly gifted musician so it will be a great shame, indeed, an irrecoverable loss, when he departs from these shores. As the cliche goes, the MPO’s — and by extension Malaysia’s — loss will be some other country’s gain! No doubt, nobody is indispensable but if all or some of the comments posted here are anything to go by, then it is sad whenever “politics” get mixed up with music to the detriment of the art of music-making. Especially, where the latter is concerned, the art and difficult technique of rendering into sounds the notes on the various scores from the baroque/classical music canon, whose practitioners have honed their skills to perfection on the instruments they make a living from, after hours and hours of drudgery, unremitting toil, perseverance and lots of dedication to their craft. Music, more so than the visual art or even writing, is a difficult one. I tried learning the keyboard and never went beyond Grade 2 level…ha ha. No joke. But my skills at the canvas are quite passable though I wouldn’t claim them to come anywhere those of a Van Gogh’s! After all, it’s not just any old orchestra that can play, say, the Second Symphony of Rachmaninov. I remember years ago being told by one player (forget his name) of the National Symphony orchestra, that, when they attempted to do this symphony (for which a conductor from Bakels homeland was supposed to have conducted) they gave up immediately after into a few bars at the first rehearsal. So, just as drinking saccahrine rose syrup from a Swarovski crystal glassware will not do justice to this refined drinking vessel, so it will be a tragedy of almost Grecian proportions as soon as the day arrives when the Dewan Fil ceases to be used by first class orchestras like the MPO (not to mention the famous visiting ones for the International Concert series), or an even greater tragedy when this opulent hall with its state-of-the-art acoustics becomes the proverbial ‘white elephant’, the ineluctable fate of many an imposing edifice here.

  22. More anonymity says:

    it might be worth taking a read at this article by Dr Marc Rochester, who has been closely involved with the MPO for the past many years. Norman, perhaps you should interview him!

    http://drmarcrochester.blogspot.com/2012/02/tale-of-two-orchestras.html

  23. As a composer and a frequent concert attendee myself, I see that all this somehow could be related to the usual government politics, where the management think that the “westerners” are taking our money to do a job which is supposed to be fellow Malaysians position. But there are problems that may arise from this.

    Apparently, the generation that may replace some orchestra members (Malaysian citizens) are actually still under the progress of development or better to put it this way, still under training. It’s partly due to the perception during the 80s, and earlier than that where music is seen to be “inferior” in income making. So the interests was not as high as from the 90s onwards. And now we can see almost everyone has some sort of interests in making music as compared to those times.

    Then, as always, the management think that we (the Malaysians) can handle an orchestra and bring it to an “international-like” status. Which I doubt so, as if we had reached this stage, we would have the Malaysian Symphony Orchestra (which of course thought to be long defunct and partly transformed into the KL Symphony instead, all thanks to politics and the government). And furthermore, I found out about the organ’s 1st curator was a Malaysian who later got sacked for “mishandling” the organ during an unprecedented blackout back in 1999. And later, she was replaced by Dr. Marc Rochester (so I heard from him). Well, if we had the standards to handle the organ, I can guarantee you how many organs in Malaysia older than the one with the MPO, would be restored to it former glory. But as many of us know, since when do we have technicians who are fully equipped for this kind of work. If there was one, there may even be an organ building workshop here!

    From what I observed, sometimes the program every season has become rather stale. Some less common repertoires increasingly becoming rarer and rarer, most of the time under the “chamber music series”. There are in fact too many works that are too “common that you can just purchase them anywhere or even just download it”, but why not just do something different like a “Hovhaness” (which I have never seen them doing) or a “Messiaen” (which was last played many years ago)? It’s something I (or many people) may have wish to watch. And lately, since the new management issue I suspect that the “pre-concert talks” have been somewhat missing.

    Since Dr. Marc is not here anymore, I wonder if our organ can be sustained or continually be “damaged”, so I heard.

    Whatever it is, I cannot bare to witness the downfall of this orchestra, if the management and the government continue making foolish decisions and in the end making a fool of themselves. Because this orchestra may one of the few venues I can get my works be performed. And if the organ is gone, there goes what may be our “national treasure”, as I have to say it’s the most valuable commodity within the hall.

    Well, this is based on my observations. But I have to agree that what MPO holo said is somewhat the truth too. Only thing is that some “pro-government” officials may be behind this political agenda, as we should not forget that the national elections is coming up again anytime soon. And I bet that NOT ALL Malaysians should not be the one at fault, as there are CERTAIN OF US who ARE in fact not happy about it either.

    But I wonder how long is this matter going to take to resolve. As I see it, the government should not rebuke Malaysians abroad for not returning back to the motherland when the motherland in the 1st place does not recognise them unless they make their name abroad. And because of the lack of support towards this form of art, the government should not blame us if we find better opportunities outside. If we have opportunities here, we wouldn’t be sitting and teaching in classes, just to earn a “meager” income.

  24. Megat Terawis says:

    While I understand that for any worthwhile orchestra to be considered of any standing in the world of classical music, the orchestra must be at least competent in a certain number of what one may call the standard Western classical repertoire. However, such an orchestra’s reputation would never stand above and beyond what one might have for a municipal orchestra in Germany or the USA.

    The MPO did not make any serious attempts to develop Malaysian classical music (in the symphonic tradition). I have yet to hear it perform a full scale symphony based, say in a Malay epic mythology, or a Malay or, for that matter, Chinese or Indian, poem or folktale. While it may have adopted the rebab, a traditional Malay musical instrument, neither has the MPO sought to incorporate the gamelan or other traditional elements of Traditional zmalay music as part of its annual programme. I have attended concerts of avant-garde and to what my ears would interpret as ameteurish attempts of orchestral interpretations or popular zmalay music but they were at best mediocre. None captured the sentiments of the, in this particular case, Malay sentiments that the original folk song sought to express.

    The failure of the MPO to create or develop an interesting and yet world-class Malaysian music (one need only look at the Shanghai Conservatory) is a shame. Yes, the previous directors have done well in establishing the Orchestra but to me, it was nothing better than like preparing a great spaghetti bolognese in Malaysia. Who wants that in KL? And who cares? Go. and discover local cusines,interpret it for the modern palate, maybe based it in say the French gastronomie techniques, then, yeah, maybe something interesting can happen. But spaghetti bolognese, albeit well executed, will remain just that, just spag bog, in Kuala Lumpur.

    • Megat Terawis, your comments are certainly food for thought but to draw an analogy between Food and Music is somewhat facetious (my apologies here, minta maaf) with respect to the gravitas of the issue in hand, which is nothing less than the continued existence of the MPO (and I am talking about a full-blooded one, not some watered-down version after compromising of standards or downsizing) whose presence on these shores have brought some international — we are after all living in a globalised world! — cachet and diversionary interest as tourists visiting this country not only desire to encounter things indigenous but could attend a concert performance (if they want to) at the luxurious Dewan Fil as a break from the grind of their daily routine ie.outings to visit the obligatory tourist spots, shopping at Chee Chong Kai, cultural enlightenment at the Museum Negara etc. Back to gastronomy.Though food is essential for sustenance, nay, survival, it only feeds the belly (a surfeit of which can make us fat) while music is about ‘spiritual’ sustenance, so to speak. At its very inception, I have to admit that very title of this great orchestra is a bit of a misnomer, considering that all but a handful of Malaysians were members of this ensemble (though there are more now, I think). But just like the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, founded by the late Dr. Goh Keng Swee, the whole initial idea was to bring in competent foreign players (Caucasian or otherwise) who, coming as it were, from a long-established tradition of orchestral performance would bring in their expertise and impart their skills to our youth here aspiring to be the next Chopin, Oistrakh, Yo Yo Ma, Dennis Brain et al. (And anyone hearing the MYPO play lately can say that we are on the right track.) It is the intention that these youths would gradually displaced the original players.( But admission has to be based on merit, pure and simple.) When I subscribed to the earlier concerts of the MPO under Bakels, we had a choice between two main categories of music spread throughout a particular season. The first, essentially, comprised music from the more popular and well-known composers like Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms and so forth whose music can be, for want of a better word, described as run-of-the-mill type (though this is not necessarily inferior music). The classics are timeless and will be played anywhere so long as there are orchestras to play them. The other one had more esoteric stuff. Whatever might be the case, the Western baroque/classical repertoire is played all over the world. Music which have tuneful melodies will always have an audience and popular appeal unlike most modern music beginning from, say, the Second Viennese School of Schoenberg, Webern, Berg right down to Berio, Boulez, Stockhausen and such. Atonal music, dodecaphonic music and a lot of contemporary stuff find limited appeal apart from their aficionados, as more often than not, to an uncomplicated listener or beginner it is not much different from discordant noise which to them pass of as music. But then again…one person’s meat is another’s poison. Although I love my nasi lemak, ulam, sambal belachan, tempoyak, thosai, idlis, ngap poh kai faan, I also appreciate a well made pasta al puttanesca (not boring Spag Bolognese) regardless where I can get it.

  25. Megat Terawis says:

    While I understand that for any worthwhile orchestra to be considered of any standing in the world of classical music, the orchestra must be at least competent in a certain number of what one may call the standard Western classical repertoire. However, such an orchestra’s reputation would never stand above and beyond what one might have for a municipal orchestra in Germany or the USA.

    The MPO did not make any serious attempts to develop Malaysian classical music (in the symphonic tradition). I have yet to hear it perform a full scale symphony based, say in a Malay epic mythology, or a Malay or, for that matter, Chinese or Indian, poem or folktale. While it may have adopted the rebab, a traditional Malay musical instrument, neither has the MPO sought to incorporate the gamelan or other traditional elements of Traditional zmalay music as part of its annual programme. I have attended concerts of avant-garde and to what my ears would interpret as ameteurish attempts of orchestral interpretations or popular zmalay music but they were at best mediocre. None captured the sentiments of the, in this particular case, Malay sentiments that the original folk song sought to express.

    The failure of the MPO to create or develop an interesting and yet world-class Malaysian music (one need only look at the Shanghai Conservatory) is a shame. Yes, the previous directors have done well in establishing the Orchestra but to me, it was nothing better than like preparing a great spaghetti bolognese in Malaysia. Who wants that in KL? And who cares? Go. and discover local cusines,interpret it for the modern palate, maybe based it in say the French gastronomie techniques, then, yeah, maybe something interesting can happen. But spaghetti bolognese, albeit well executed, will remain just that, just spag bog, in Kuala Lumpur.

    • @Megat Terawis

      Hi genius,
      We’ve played some extremely bad movie music for a Malay movie (“the Malay chronicles”) a while ago. Does it count?
      Anyway : you write the Symphony. We play it. Promised. (not that we have any say in programming)

      Btw. since you are mentioning the local music and tradition, where do the persistent rumors fit in about Petronas closing down PPAG?

      Maybe up there they just want to focus on making money with oil and decided to trash all non-related cultural adventures?

      • Megat Terawis says:

        Dear MPO Grunt…No, the Malay Chronicles do not count. I am not blaming the musicians for playing or not playing whatever music that they have been made to play. I blame the management and/or the music director(s).

        By the way, the Petronas Performing Arts Group is, to me, nohting more than a pathetic parody of Malay culture. It is cheap, tawdry and tacky. It smacks nothing more than an amateur attempt, little more than a high school production. It was done without any respectable level of scholarship, intelligence and thought. The PPAG SHOULD BE CLOSED DOWN. It is an embrassment.

        Yes, I agree with you – nobody is writing the Malaysian-based symponic works. This is, however, the job of the management of MPO. Such works should have been encouraged; commissioning such pieces and show-casing them as world premieres. This was not done. The local public resents such large amounts of money ( although I think RM20m)is pittance, in a big picture sort of way), being spent and all they got was Bartok and Mahler. The Malaysian education system, rightly or wrongly, does not accomadate the appreciation of Western music.

        If in the West, it can be generally said the concert-going audience is shrinking, what do you expect of Malaysians? But if we are to establish an orchestra of repute, it is not enough to play the programmes that the MPO has been playing. It needed to have more colour and chutzpah to gain international attention. Why on earth do you think the Houston (or some God forsaken Texan opera house) championed Philip Glass?

        By the way, I read a posting that one of the reasons the MPO ‘s decline is because of the increasing Islamisation of Malaysia and that Western classsical musicmis regarded as unIslamic. What utter rubbish. This is amperfect of a Western commentator who writes based on his or her preconceived prejudices.

        I may agree it is due to bad management, on an insensitive amangement who does not appreciate or even understand Western classical music but because it is unIslamic?

        And if the ‘powers that be’ wishes to empty some seats to make room for local musicians, that is the prerogrative of the owners. Is an orchestra akin to a newspaper where the owner should not influence the editorial content or choose who may or not may be its journalists? I dont know. But it is certainly heartening that there are people out there who have taken the MPO to their hearts and have a sense of ownership over it.

    • concerned Malaysian says:

      Hi Megat,

      The lack of your choice of local musical content is not the reason for unjust dismissal of noted musicians. If you are worried that a gamelan has not graced the DFP stage, fret not. A few MPO musicians have spearheaded collaborations and performed with our wonderful Rhythm in Bronze (twice, if I am not mistaken).

      It is also baseless to criticize MPO itself for not satisfying your need for local musical delicacies. Blame should lie with management in terms of programming. “Ameteurish attempts of orchestral interpretations or popular zmalay music” (?) may be a result of poor orchestration / arrangement. Malaysian folk songs stem from vocal music by an individual or a group of singers in a community, or instrumental music in a chamber setting which consists of a either traditional instruments or a mixture of traditional and western instruments. To have these genre of music translated effectively requires skills in western music orchestration technique and extensive research on Malaysian ethnomusicology. Perhaps you could whip up something more digest-able for our players?

      ps: I like good spag bog. I also like good nasi kandar and good char kuey teow.

      @MPO grunt – yup. PPAG is moving towards a dead end, and it is within sight.

      • Megat Terawis says:

        Concerned Malaysian…if you have had read my earlier posting, you could have ascertained that I placed no blame on the choice of music on the musicians. When I crticise the MPO, i criticised the management, just as I criticised a company, its the management, not the employees.

        As for the remainder of your posting, I think we are on the same page. Not only is the management of the MPO is to be blamed but also the level of music scholarship in Malaysia.

        Nevertheless, with the right fundingi, colloborative efforts could have been made between Malaysian and Western composers, with the West providing the technical aspects of the composition while the Malaysian providing the melody and feel. I am a layman in musical terms, by the way.

  26. What Megat posted here, probably reflects how the majority of locals perceive foreign ideas, eg. western music. So for you people from other countries who are reading this, there you go.

    While you, Megat, can drink all the teh tarik and eat all the nasi lemak for all you want in this world, let’s just stay focused on the whole point of this thread here: It’s the MPO management’s misconduct at handling personnel.

    • megaterawis@gmail.com says:

      Dear ZYX, I find your response offensive. It implies Malaysians are ignorant of Western classical music or have little conceptual understanding of it. Your view is arrogant.

      I do appreciate Western classical music and appreciate its position in the global civilisation, right from Wagner’s Ring Cycle to Strauss’s watlzes. You are an elitist who simpy look down on Malaysians who happened to finance this MPO you are arguing about. Whether I enjoy nasi lemak or teh tarik, that is besides the point or for that matter, champagne or coq au vin. At the end of the day, it is Malaysian money and we were not getting the full bang for our bucks.

      What I was expressing is my view of the bigger picture while the majority of the postings were, to me, petty squablling and discussions and expression of indignation of being sacked. That is a management problem and without being a member of the management, or being a member of the MPO, I am unable,to comment, in fact pointless for me to comment.

  27. megaterawis@gmail.com says:

    Dear MPO Hrunt…No, the Malay Chronicles do not count. I am not blaming the musicians for playing or not playing whatever music that you have been made to play. I blame the management or the music director(s).

    By the way, the Petronas Performing Arts Group is, to me, noting more than a pathetic parody of Malay culture. It is cheap, tawdry and tacky. It smacks nothing more than an amateur attempt, little more than a high school production. It was done without any respectable level of scholarship, intelligence and thought.

    Yes, I agree with you. Nobody is writing the Malaysian-based symponic works. That is, however, the job of the management of MPO. Such works should have been encouraged; commissioning such pieces and show-casing them as world premieres. This was not done. The local public resents such large amounts of money ( although I think RM20m) is pittance, in a big picture sort of way., being spent and all they got was Bartok and Mahler.

    If in the West, it can be generally said the concert-going audience is shrinking, what do you expect of Malaysians? But if we are to establish an orchestra of repute, it is not enough to play the programmes that the MPO has been playing. It needed to have more colour and chutzpah to gain international attention. Why on earth do you think the Houston (or some God forsaken Texan opera house) championed Philip Glass?

  28. ihateignorance says:

    Before anyone else posts anymore ignorant comments about what a symphony orchestra should and should not be doing within it’s community, let’s take a quick look at how long a few orchestras have been established:

    ORCHESTRA NAME FOUNDED AGE IN YEARS

    Liepzig Gewandhaus Orchestra 1781 231
    New York Philharmonic 1842 170
    Vienna Philharmonic 1848 164
    St. Louis Symphony 1880 132
    Boston Symphony 1881 131
    Berlin Philharmonic 1882 130
    Royal Concertgebouw 1888 124
    Chicago Symphony 1891 121
    London Sympony 1904 108
    Melbourne Symphony 1906 106
    Tokyo Philharmonic 1911 101
    Los Angeles Philharmonic 1919 93
    Sydney Symphony 1932 80
    National Taiwan Symphony 1945 67
    Seoul Philharmonic 1948 64
    Perth Symphony 1951 61
    Hong Kong Philharmonic 1957 55
    Singapore Symphony 1978 34

    MALAYSIAN PHILHARMONIC 1998 14

    The truth of the matter is that the Malaysian Philharmonic has never even had a chance. PLEASE!….. THINK BEFORE YOU POST! The MPO has done remarkable things given the fact that it has been so woefully mismanaged for more than half of it’s entire life.

    Please familiarize yourselves with what a symphony orchestra actually is before posting commentary. It’s an arts institution that is intended to serve generations, PLURAL. Not just the one which you happen to be living in.

    • Megat Terawis says:

      Well, yes, exactly. Hence, the need to develop Malaysian symphonic music to serve future generations. Having said that your argument that the MPO “never even had a chance” is misguided. The age of an orchestra does not in anyway guarantee its excellence nor the length of its future life.

      An orchestra or any institution for that matter, with the right mix of funding, management and socio-economic environment can grow to be a world-class instituttion. If your argument is to hold, what then happened to the numerous court orchestras 200 years ago?

    • Megat Terawis says:

      Dear Ihateignorance

      Yes, the MPO has done remarkable things but ‘remarkable’ is a relative word. It has done an excellent job in rising in the ranks of world or hestras and at one pont, I was told, second only to Tokyo or was it Osaka’s?

      But to the owners of the MPO, and the Malaysian general public, such an accolade is hollow. There was very little Malaysian content, in temrs of talent or programming. It is actually lying to oneself, saying yes we have a top-rated orchestra but it is/was in fact a foreign import.

      I do agree a conservatory should have been attached to the MPO to nurture future talents and music developement but this requires a certain foresight which the present management may or may not have.

  29. artists concerned artist says:

    Bravo mpo h——–. “artists re invent” let’s move on and rise above. Enjoy the nasi lemak and let’s play music somewhere else. Thank you for the memories. My first mpo concert was in 2001. Wow… The string section. Thank you for the music and the memories.

  30. another orchestra musician says:

    It is rather strange, Megat Terawis, to criticize an orchestra for not playing music that not only hasn’t been written, but which also has no living exponent.

    There is no great Malay symphonist. There is no great Malay symphony. And you cannot justly accuse the MPO of not attempting to promote Malaysian composers; quite the contrary: the MPO Composers’ Forum has been a regular feature of MPO programming for the past decade. Have the fairness to give credit where credit is due: MPO Associate Conductor, Kevin Field, has energetically striven to offer Malaysian composers a platform for their art. Recognize, too, that any presumptive authentic Malaysian composer of authentic Malaysian music bears a responsibility for making himself known to the musicians who might perform his works. Allah does not reside at Level 88, Tower 1; Petroliam Nasional Sendirian Berhad is an oil company, not a progenitor of Malay symphonists; great composers are not conjured into existence simply because a CEO decrees they should be.

    Salient in the dialogue of the deaf that is the relationship that much of the MPO entertains with much of its physical and social environment has been the unwillingness of one side to even attempt to understand the other. I, personally, am not persuaded that financial considerations underlie Petronas’ choice to allow its Orchestra to languish; I do, on the other hand, sense that a fear of the other party, and a defensively contemptuous disregard for the other party’s cultural priorities, has subverted what could have been a marvelously fruitful dialogue.

    • Megat Terawis says:

      Dear another orchestra musician

      If your words are to go by, the world’s civilisation would not ever progress. Enough said.

    • Megat Terawis says:

      And even Petronas would not have come into existence. Petronas came about because there were crticisms and concerns on how the nation’s pteroleum resources would be managed.

      If i were to criticise the orchestra for not playing music that have not been written, you should have read my earlier postings whereby I did say the MPO/the management of MPO should have commissioned such works. If you know your music history, you would know that the repertoire of Western classical music grew because there were royal and church patrons who paid for music to be created. I am not espousing that the Office of the President of Petronas to get involve but the management of DFP/MPO.

      Yes, Petronas is an oil company but neither is it a shopping mall operator? So, stop being defensive and admit that whoever was put in charge of the DFP/MPO was incompetent enough not to put in medium and long term strategies in place so as to have the MPO grow as a truly Malaysian institution, not only in terms of personnel but its programme. Hence, the current sad episode which brought to rise this thread in the first place.

      • another orchestra musician says:

        Whom, pray tell, would you have had the MPO management commission to write the music you hope to see programmed?

        • Megat Terawis says:

          Ive given you an idea, an aspiration, a world-class goal and now you are asking for a name? Talk about spoon-feeding….Typical!

          Anyway, no point debating with a defeatist. like you. With your kinda mind, this country will never get anywhere. Mampus!

          • another orchestra musician says:

            Ideas are easily come by. Bringing them to fruition, on the other hand, can prove difficult.

            The ideas you have advanced, above, are well familiar to the people who ran the MPO during its first 10 years. The notion of helping make the MPO more accessible to its social environment by incorporating specifically Malaysian musical elements in the MPO’s concert planning was very much present. It was, alas, quickly tempered by reality on the ground.

            A considerable repertoire of Asian music for symphony orchestra does exist. Overwhelmingly it is Chinese and Japanese in origin. Some of it is quite wonderful, and indeed is regularly programmed by symphony orchestras the world over, the MPO among them. Very little of it has a specifically Malay melodic flavour, or evokes an identifiably Malaysian atmosphere.

            Malaysian composers possessing the skill to viably translate Malay musical heritage into large symphonic form, at present, to the best of our knowledge, do not exist. And relevantly, bringing forth Malaysian composers of the stature desired will be the work not of a few months, or a few years, or even a decade; it will be the work of generations.

            The microtonal character of traditional Malay music, which derives heavily from Arabia and from the Indonesian archipelago, is not easily incorporated within the framework of the 12-note chromatic scale that forms the backbone of Western music. It can – I emphasize, it can – be done; but it requires a tremendous effort from composer and performers alike. Money, here, is not the primary issue. Requisite, first and foremost, is immense skill: skill on the part of the composer, who must know what is, and is not, possible, and be capable of reconciling his aims with his constraints; skill on the part of the performers, who must learn to function within a partially unfamiliar musical language.

            You may or may not be aware that many, many, indeed most all pieces written by present-day, serious composers, are performed once – and subsequently never again. Imagine, then, the dilemma of the hypothetical internationally recognized non-Malay composer X, who, approached by the management of the MPO, is offered the task of composing a Malay-flavoured major symphonic work. Is he, even in exchange for a large monetary compensation, willing to invest a great effort in producing an opus that very possibly may not ever be performed again after its premiere in what must appear to his eyes, a musical backwater?

            Whence the MPO’s effort to encourage young, native Malaysian composers, whose familiarity with the language of Malay music is likely innate, and who possess a strong emotional tie to it. Precisely these composers are the ones who, even at risk of never hearing their work performed a second time, are most likely to invest a great effort. To local audiences, this can alas appear unimpressive. The young composers don’t yet well master their craft. They need time – lots of it – to mature, and hone their skills.

            Seeing reality for what it is, is not the same as being defeatist. Or perhaps it is, I don’t know; but do in this case please consider: it was defeatists such as myself who, obsessed with imagining everything that possibly could go wrong, designed, engineered and built the Petronas Twin Towers. It was defeatists such as myself who, having examined all that had previously malfunctioned in governance, laid the foundation for Malaysia’s federal constitution. It was defeatists such as myself who tossed aside material considerations and tried, very hard, through music, to make a positive difference in a country – Malaysia – where we knew we would be facing an uphill struggle.

            There are moments when defeatists like me suspect you are right when you affirm that, with my kinda mind, Malaysia will never get anywhere.

    • Megat Terawis says:

      another orchestra musician

      I reread your comment and it irks me to note that you said “there is no great Malay symphonist. No great symphony. Excuse me, there was no great MPO either, no great Petronas either 50 years ago, hell, there was Malaysia either 60 years ago.

      The fact there is no Malay symphonist or Malay symphony is a mute point. It does not mean we cannot set a certain benchmark for the DFP/PO to aspire. With such a defeatist attitude, I wish you good luck in your endeavours. Just because its not there, does not mean it cannot be there ever.

      Your posting is obviousy a knee jerk reaction. You did not read my earlier post where I did say that there should have been colloborative efforts made with a Western composer providing the technical know-how and a Malaysian to provide the local feel and colour.Tiara Jacquelina I think did set a banchmark for the PUtri Gunung Ledang the Musical score, with Dick Lee and later embellishments by Gutawan and Edlin.

      Nevertheless, in all fairness, I agree with you that there are elements of contemptous disregard for local cultural sensibilities. I have seen this before, Westerners coming here, backwater Malaysia (if they are that great, how come they are not with the Berlin Philharmonic eh?),thinking that their way is the only way. Well, its our money and we have had enough. Spag bog, anyone?

      • another orchestra musician says:

        The goal of the MPO Composers’ Forum was very much the type of collaboration you advocate. And the fact that there is no great Malay symphonist is not a moot point. Although the famous composers of European art music in many cases did benefit materially from patronage, they became proficient in their art through lifelong contact with an environment that helped them to learn it. A patron may pay an artist to produce; if the artist is to produce a work of value, however, he must first both desire to produce, and also possess the tools (skills) necessary to his craft.

        • Megat Terawis says:

          Your reply is only true to a certain exttemt. Quite a number of works, music, paintings and books were written because the creator needed money to pay off bills, debts, favours etc. Again, read more please before making general statements as above. Lifelong contact? Mozart composed his piece when he was, what, eight?

          The point is, stop making escuses. Look around you and instead of seeing your glass half empty, look at it half full…with what we have and with what our friends have abroad, what can we do together to create Malaysian works? Your stance is cannot, dont have, no can do.

          And again, I did acknowledge in earlier postings that the level of music scholarship here may be insufficient today, hence I wrote – colloborative efforts should have been initiated. There must also be a reason why the Govt sent people to Berkeley what have you. Truth is the mangement of MPO had their head in the sand, probably too wrapped up bodekking Tan Sri et al.

          It seems like the management of MPO is not much different from the people who ran MAS. Blinkered, little clue of what it takes to be distinctive, driven by internal politics, not market dynamics and sticking to long obsolete playbooks.

          • You are right Megat. Haydn was thought to be a hack composer who composed the same symphony in a hundred different ways, so they say. But Mozart was lucky to have a father like Leopold who was a composer, violinist and a music teacher to boot.

    • Some say that day when we are able to hear a symphony composed by a Malaysian will come when we have our own Debussy who was influenced by gamelan music when he first heard it at the 1889 Paris exhibition. So enraptured was he that he wrote “…thus Javanese music obeys laws of counterpoint which make Palestrina seem Like child’s play.” Perhaps, we may need a Paris Conservatoire before this becomes a reality.

  31. Gustav Mahler says:

    Regardless of who is heading the MPO from the podium as long as the Managment running it is useless and stupid, we can shout out loud “the ship is sinking!!!!!!” Go ahead, sack/dismiss/terminate the musicians who are pioneers of the orchestra. We probably can replace the principals with the Management and let them make a fool out of themselves.

    This time round we could have Mozart’s Requiem Mass perform at the DFP against the policy of DFP for the demise of the MPO.

    • Why this penchant for writers here assuming the names of dead composers and musicians? Is impersonation the trend these days? Gustav Mahler, Jacha Heifetz….dan apa lagi? Did you guys get posthumous permission from these people to use their names? Mozart Requiem? I doubt it. The first and last time we heard a so called sacred work here was about two decades ago when the Selangor Philharmonic Choir (I was singing in the choir section then) in collaboration with the National Symphony Orchestra did Haydn’s Creation (more a quasi religious piece than a veritable one). We had the Australian maestro, Anthony Walker, conducting.

      • Granville Bantock says:

        Sd Goh. You are completely incorrect. In 2010 Harmonia Choir did an excellent performance of Mozarts Requiem with full orchestra. The December before that in 2009, KLPac Orchestra and choir did a 4 show run of Handels Messiah which was sold out at every performance, got outstanding reviews from the media and standing ovations every time. Last year, Yin Qi did a performance of St Mathew Passion and in October this year there will be another production of Haydn’s Creation.

        The sacred music and oratorio scene is alive and well in Malaysia. Just because DFP and other intolerant venues have banned any music with even a passing relationship to anything ‘New Testament’ does not mean that musicians of all races both professional and amateur are not taking every opportunity they can to maintain and prosper hundreds of years of oratorio tradition and making it available to all Malaysians whatever their religion in other venues so they can appreciate it’s beauty. They are!

        • Granville, actually I had in mind performances of sacred works BY the MPO AT the DFP. Had there ever been any performances there of any of these works before? (But you have already clarified this in your comments above, and if I had not made myself clear or had erred in my earlier comments regarding this issue, then my apologies.) A recap.The National Symphony Orchestra (it being a national orchestra and there are certain limitations and expectations!) which collaborated with the Selangor Phil Choir two decades ago in the performance of Die Schopfung which I mentioned, was, post concert, said to have been told (their management that is) in no uncertain terms never to do anything like that again, although I have no means of corroborating this. And it was such a long time ago. (Oh yes, there was a Turkish expat singing alongside me in the tenor section.) I am of course aware of the other events done elsewhere here which you mentioned. My wish is to attend a live performance here one day and hear the tenor belting out (gently of course) the Kyrie from Beethoven Missa Solemnis. I once had a little conversation with Kees Bakels when I bumped into him at the now defunct Towers Records at Lot 10. I asked him about the possibility whether there ever would come the day when the MPO tackled the beautiful and moving Third Symphony of Honegger, the Swiss composer of Les Six. He didn’t think so. Why? Well, the subtitle of this gorgeous work says it all. Incidentally, Heifetz and Mahler, my sincere apologies to both of you for being nit-picky about your names. Yes, I agree with both of you that we shouldn’t allow such trivialities to get in the way of a far greater issue here that has brought forth our attention, our ire, our collective angst, in the last few days and which all the writers here I am sure feel deeply about, and indeed to some of us at least, one which even is a matter of life and death. In short, the likelihood of great music remaining, or disappearing altogether from these salubrious shores. And for which, all of us must thank Norman Lebrecht for allowing us so much space here to air our views. Danke, merci, grazie, gratias, terima kasih, nandiri, xie xie ni, NL.

      • Gustav Mahler says:

        Why bother on the names other people used, do something to save the MPO instead. I am saying that we can have the Mozart Requiem this time round as a sarcastic statement because the policy of the DFP does not allow church sacred music to be performed. Clearly you are unaware of the “Music to be performed Policy” of DFP. Those concerts u mentioned, was it performed at the DFP????????????

        • Granville Bantock says:

          If you read my second paragraph you will realise they were not performed there. Sd Goh was suggesting that sacred works were not performed in Malaysia. I approve of your idea though. Why not turn it into a Requiem Festival as part of a longer ‘Buggering up Great Orchestras of the world’ week.

          The actual ‘Policy’ is that nothing from or relating to the New Testament may be performed but things have got tougher over the last three years or so. Any texts which are to be sung must now be submitted to the management and approved by a religious official. A little over two years ago, in an attempt to get some choral music back into DFP they again looked at the Creation on the basis that it was from Genesis with bits from Paradise Lost. It was TURNED DOWN because the religious official apparently said it had ‘Christian Overtones’.

          However, the last laugh is with JS Bach who dedicated every note he ever wrote to the glory of Jesus Christ and claimed that whenever it was to be performed it would be to His glory. So DFP get Christian music performed there all the time without even realising it. Bring on the Brandenburgs I say!

          • Gustav Mahler says:

            Soli Deo Gloria that is what JS Bach wrote on his music page. Yes indeed Bach being a Chriatian himself dedicated all his music writing to GOD. Haydn’s seasons was performed at the DFP and probably the only word they understood was AMEN at the end, the policy makers of DFP would not understand “Die Jahreszeiten”, they will never!!!!!

  32. Granville Bantock says:

    There is an international conservatory starting in KL next year but the MPO management do not want to have anything to do with it.

    • Tell us more.

      • Granville Bantock says:

        It is going to happen and the campus will be a branch of a globally respected European Conservatoire. However as final negotiations are at a pivotal stage with the developers and other stakeholders it would be imprudent to give more details publicly right now. Happy to discuss it direct via email though.

        • Megat Terawis says:

          Dear Granville Bantock

          I am glad and most happy to have read your post. I am not in the music world but from little I know the Shanghai Conservatory have come up with several works that reflect Chinese muscial traditions. My very best wishes.

          • JaschaHeifetz says:

            Singapore has a top class conservatory. If Malaysia has one, and in the event the MPO “dies” – what is the point of having a conservatory?

          • The Shanghai Conservatory’s (founded in 1927) curriculum was set up by Dr. Xiao Youmei who trained at the Leipzig Conservatory of Music. They had teachers from Russia and France.

        • Granville Bantock says:

          Somewhat defeatist as it assumes that Petronas is the ONLY source of funding for an orchestra and that DFP will remain the ONLY world class concert hall in the Klang Valley. If the MPO dies then somehow we will find funding as described previously and give them a home in the new concert hall which is being built in 2016 near PJ.

          We’ve got four years to do it and the impossible has been achieved before.

          • musicisharaam says:

            Ha!!!…. Good luck with that.

            It is a fact that music of any kind (never mind music of the West in any for) in the Islamic religion is considered haraam (forbidden). This means listening to it, viewing it, or performing it. Malaysia is a conservative Muslim country and all Malays are ‘born’ into the religion. They have no choice. The bulk of the MPO’s audience is expat, tourists, and Chinese and Indian. Selling out the 980 seat DFP even 13 years after the orchestra’s inception has never been easily done, and you want to build another concert hall in Klang Valley?? That is completely absurd.

            The Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, in my opinion, needs to be moved away from Kuala Lumpur. It would be wonderful (and make complete sense given their support of arts in Malaysia i.e.: KLPAC, PenangPAC, etc) if YTL would buy out the orchestra from Petronas. I’m sure that Petronas would give them a great deal! They could build a beautiful concert hall by the sea and the MPO musicians could move in and get on with the business they’ve been trying to get on with in KL, which is sharing the joy of music through performing the greatest music ever written and mentoring the aspiring young musicians of Malaysia. This great orchestra will never be able to serve it’s intended purpose in the Klang Valley under BN (Barisan Nasional). Never. And quite honestly, KL doesn’t deserve to have this orchestra.

            The difference between Kuala Lumpur and Penang is nearly as dramatic as the difference between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. It’s hard to believe they are even both in Malaysia. Penang is very ‘first world’. It’s much cleaner, people are friendlier and more laid back, and art and education are important. KL is filthy, corrupt, rampant with crime, and plain too conservative.

            I hope that if anyone from YTL is watching, that they will come to the rescue of this great orchestra and put it back on track.

          • Granville Bantock says:

            For the record. Conservative Islam says that music is haraam under fatwa 5000. However, enlightened scholars point out that this is a very narrow interpretation (a bit like fundamentalist Christians re the literalcy of the Bible). The actual text makes haraam anything which distracts one from focusing on God Or Allah. Given that music is a unique gift to humans from God, if it is performed for the glory of God or the betterment of the intellect thus bringing greater understanding, then it cannot be considered haraam. There are many inconsistencies which have led for the need to review thinking. For example, singing is OK in some instances but not if a prostitute is singing (How are we supposed to know I ask?)

            Malaysia is not as conservative as it might sometimes appear on the surface. Government funded universities such as UiTM and UM have recently invested heavily in music courses both classical and contemporary in faculty and facilities. However, the Government is in a quandary. If it openly promotes music it will upset the hardliners. If it comes down against it, it will damage the reputation it is trying to build as a tolerant, democratic Islamic country. So it just keeps quiet which, given its dilemma, is probably the only sensible option.

  33. just a thought says:

    This discussion goes sideways.
    Maybe there should be another blog about if Malaysia really needs a high class western philharmonic orchestra or how much Malay music should be played in DFP.

    This thread was about 9 fine musicians, long standing members of the orchestras, including some key players, getting fired without any official reason.

    Following the comments here I understand they might have been fired because they are friends with Kees Bakels, the former music director?

    Is this enough reason to get fired in Malaysia?

  34. JaschaHeifetz says:

    The Yong Siew Toh (YST) Conservatory is funded by the late YST with a noble purpose – to elevate the musical art life in Singapore. I had the pleasure to know her since the 1980s.

    If money comes into music, then music will die. You can’t measure and quantify how music impacts and lifts uop our lives – Petronas and DFP Management.

  35. JaschaHeifetz says:

    Actually MPO/DFP management should manage the new music conservatory.

    They (MPO/DFP management) are very good at conserving.
    They are good at conserving MONEY!

    • anonymous* says:

      Yong Siew Toh, a Malaysian proposed to build a music school, asking for collaberation with the MPO, however the DFP rejected the offer. She went to Singapore and gave $25 million to National U of Sg, largest grant ever presented to NUS. Referred to Sg Government her gift was qualified for a dollar for dollar matching education grants, thus the NUS has $50 million for the developing the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory. All the conservatory students with different nationalities are training with world class soloists, full scholarship including tuition, housing and monthly stipends.

  36. First things first. Brian Griffin, Not ALL Malaysians hide behind a pseudonym when writing in public, whether here online or, say, in the newspapers elsewhere! And it is definitely NOT a Malaysian custom as you claimed. Malaysians have their faults like other people elsewhere, but before anybody disparages a nation or its people, it must be done with at least the complete facts in hand). Sure, some (or many, according to your mis-perception, give a non de plume perhaps out of pusillanimity, pure and simple. And if so, why? I don’t know, you got to ask them, brother). Now, to the business of music.
    So much thought- provoking comments have been posted here (and none to earn the epithet, asinine as one is most likely to encounter in some other blogs on issues of a non-musical nature) on the non-renewal of the contracts of the eight members of the MPO, the conductors, past and present, and the wonderful MPO itself…..and the many reasons about the “sacking” and so on. Some seem to me purely conjecture, the others very plausible. I add my comments here for what they are worth….two euros (na, it would be worthless soon) so two remimbi, perhaps?
    Kees Bakels, the first conductor did a wonderful job and like a sculptor — perhaps not exactly a Michelangelo, or to the issue at hand, a Toscanini or a Sabata — moulded, in my humble opinion, a great sound from the MPO, an onerous task involving not one or two years, but many. That he did a great job can’t be denied, though some may disagree. Although I don’t claim to be an authority on music like Messrs. Norman Lebrecht or Richard Osborne of the Gramophone, what sounds that were assailing my ears in the Dewan Fil during an MPO concert conducted by Kees, were euphonious and life-enhancing ones, I assure you. I had been a subscriber during his tenure there and will never forget some of the performances of Mahler (a most memorable Resurrection!), Elgar, Shostakovitch, Rachmaninov to name a few. He may not exactly be in the same league as a Karajan, the earlier non-smoothy Karajan that is. But how many cars are there in this world equal to a BMW, Mercedes etc. to use an analogy of the vehicular world? Or a Mravinsky, Bernstein, Jochum, Bohm, Guilini, Abbado, Klemperer, Mengelberg, Furtwangler et al. By the same token, how many orchestras are there in the world the equivalent of a Concertgebouw, the Leningrad, Leipzig Gewandhaus, New York, the aristos both the Vienna and the Berlin Philharmoniker? Lest one forgets, only the creme de la creme of musicians/instrumentalists ever get to play in these supernovae of the orchestral firmament. (Ask Wolfgang Stiecke, Principal Bass, par excellence, of MPO who I believe once played with the Berlin Youth Orchestra.) And the players in these internationally renowned orchestras say that, just by looking at the way a conductor walks to the podium on the first rehearsal they can tell whether the latter is of any mettle to transform base metal into gold, musically speaking that is! Sure, Kees might walk with a little swagger, might seem reserved, even dour, but perhaps that is in keeping with the proverbial parsimony of the Hollanders. (Only a joke here, no offence meant.) But I doubt he was a martinet like the legendary Szell of the Cleveland orchestra in the halcyon days of great (I mean, really great) American orchestras. Or, can there be today, another Stokowski in that continent? (Nah, he was a Brit, not a Yank, I hear you say.) But I digress. More comments to follow.

    • Gustav Mahler says:

      who are u sd goh? give us your full name instead. Keep harping around with pseudonym. what is sd goh?

  37. Orchestra Musician says:

    Hi,

    Unfortunatelly, this is all true about the Malaysian orchestra. You also should know that a similar process is going on in Brazil, in its three major orchestras: Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Brazilian Symphony Orchestra (Rio de Janeiro) and Minas Gerais Philharmonic Orchestra ( Belo Horizonte). So, if any of you, musicians, are looking forward to audition for any of the orchestras above mentioned, beware that people do get fired for no reason in Brazilian orchestras. The payment is good, so it looks attractive to work in any of those three orchestras, but in the long run, you might end up on the curb without a peny and no explanation.

    Sincerely,

    Orchestra Musician.

    • Gustav Mahler says:

      It may happen anywhere, yes its rather unfortunate. So what? This is Malaysia and we must ensure it does not happen here. From the 15 years the MPO has been around, we as patrons could see and also witness the going ons in the orchestra and its Management and we as patrons also know that the current Managemnt are not able to perform let alone to manage. We as patrons of the MPO are not ignorant fools. We know the politicking going around in the MPO and its Management. Music is supposed to bring people together and also to heal, but instead we have war!

  38. The idea of having a world class orchestra in KL was great.
    And it started so promising.

    But over the last few years many good players left the orchestra (@Megat Terawis – and they have been on the level to find great jobs in other top Orchestras around the world. There are many great orchestras – Berlin Philharmonic would not be #1 in my ranking)

    Good, experienced musicians are a rare commodity; irreplaceable for the MPO right now.

    With the recent decisions the new MPO management shows clearly that they don’t care anymore about the quality of the orchestra or our international reputation.

    Of course, if you don’t have a top orchestra anymore it also makes no sense to record CDs.

    I’m surprised that nobody else here mentioned that the planed recordings with BIS – supposed to take place in July – have been canceled.

    As usual without any reasons given.

    So better get your historical MPO CDs ASAP. Soon it might be a collector item.
    Norman, btw. very nice recording with Kees you’ve put at the top of this blog.

  39. Jindrich Zeleny says:

    Mr. Lebrecht,

    Why do you urge people to “not use the word holocaust loosely?” It is, after all, just a word that is in common usage, and which is not racially offensive to anyone, unlike words that are derogatory towards specific ethnic groups.

    I realize that you are associating the word holocaust with nazi extermination camps, in which millions of jews were exterminated before and during WW II. However, by insinuating that only 6 million jews were brutally murdered in the Holocaust is as offensive as stating that the Holocaust never took place. Apart from 6 million jews, roughly the same number of gypsies, slavs, people with disabilities, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholic clergy, Eastern European intellectuals and politically undesirable people were murdered in that very same Holocaust.

    Your political correctness is completely inappropriate and smacks of affected self-righteousness. As a christian slav myself, I am not offended by the fact that the word holocaust is used in other connotations, even though the vast majority of the “other” 6 million Holocaust victims were from my ethnic group. In fact, I lost 4 family members in the Lidice massacre, and another 3 were deported to Gross-Rosen, where they subsequently disappeared without a trace. Presumably with the greeting from Chamberlain “peace in our time” ringing in their ears.

    I presume you have a dictionary handy, so look the word up. The origins of the word holocaust are Greek, and mean a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; i.e., burnt offering. Another definition found in dictionaries is: A great or complete devastation or destruction, especially by fire (notice that “by fire” is not a strictly required element of the destruction). When referring to WW II genocide, the word is normally preceded by “the” and capitalized.

    When referring specifically to the mass murder of jews by the nazis, I believe the term “Shoah” is the most appropriate word to use out of respect for the Holocaust’s non-jewish victims.

    True, MPO Holocaust capitalizes the word holocaust, but I do not feel offended by it. What’s a letter among friends, after all? The world has far graver problems to deal with.

  40. JaschaHeifetz says:

    Some of my MPO BIS CDs may be worth something someday in future. I may have got Maestro Bakels signature on some of them. Haha.

  41. JaschaHeifetz says:

    We love pseudonyms because we are fans on Heifetz, Mahler and Bantock. What’s wrong with that?
    If you could see my collection of Heifetz DVD, CDs, LPs, etc – your eyes will pop out. Oh, I love Mahler
    too but I am not “GustavMahler” in this thread.

  42. Gustav Mahler says:

    To musicisharaam

    Since u said that all forms of music is haram in the Holy Quran, that would also include traditional Malay music, since all Malays are born into Islam. All Malay pop music icons should be bannished from this world, for example M. Nasir, Ella, P. Ramlee, Sudirman, Shiela Majid, Siti Norhaliza, et all. By the way I do see Malays at the DFP occasionally, do u mean they have committed sins? and how on earth do u know that the general audience made up of those race group? unless u have been there yourself. Since Islam is free for all, the race group u mentioned may also made up of European Muslims, Chinese Muslims, Indian Muslims et all.

    Music is one of the ways to bring people together regardless of race, religion and creed. U can continue to live in the cave u have created for yourself. Please do not be involved in the music world because you know none.

    • Didn’t I hear of some of the greatest pop stars (and models) being flown straight into the Bruneian Sultanate for private shows?

      • Gustav Mahler says:

        How about that?

      • JaschaHeifetz says:

        For food there in Brunei – apparently there are “special dishes” (like “4-Legged Duck”) and for drink,
        there is “Special Tea” as well. “Special Tea” is generally “brewed” under the table.

        Apparently, in so-called Muslim Malaysia – in the top brass’ house, there are “wine cellars” in the house annexe as well. I also heard Al Jarreau coming to give a private concert here in the top brass’ house. I hate all this pretense which the Muslims put up as a front like ===> “I am so holy in front on the public but I am
        so “haram” in private”).

  43. At last, the MPO is going to be truly Malaysian. It has been long overdue. Congrats to the vision of the Petronas CEO and to the Malaysian Government to finally do what has been long overdue. Finally, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra can be just that – Malaysian. With the long overdue departure of the Concertmaster and the rest, at long last may Malaysians fulfil the role of local concert musicians to enthrall our fellow Malaysians.

    It’s always amusing to read the expatriate’s feeling of abject loss over their gross over-payment of work that could be performed by local Malaysian concert violinists etc. At last, the over stuffed and over paid expatriate workers (do they do any work by the way, I mean in the real sense of the word) will be given a one way ticket out of out beautiful country. And finally may the glory of Malaysian concert musicians be appreciated and respected by fellow Malayians in Malaysian soil.

    • Dear Lady, that’s what the whole idea was about, to begin with. But a recap first. In my earlier comments here I said that the Malaysian Phil Orch. is a misnomer in so far as all but a handful of its players are foreigners. It should rightly have been called the Petronas Phil Orch. or whatever. But in a globalised world who cares? People today emigrate or go to where their qualifications, skills or experience in any field of human endeavour are in demand. After all, was not the MPO modelled on the Singapore Symphony Orch. which too started under the same circumstances, and with the same express mission ie. to one day have an ensemble the equal of the best in the world to fulfil this desideratum in the sphere of “serious” music (I use this hardly adequate term for want of a better word and also mentioning “classical” would open me to the charge of “elitism”, a politically incorrect word in these PC times) so that Kuala Lumpur would then have all the attractions to make it a truly international destination for tourists from all over the world. (Please allow me to digress. I remember this anecdote about a Chinese official who had once lived abroad, presumably in Austria and who back home attended an agit-prop opera during the reign of the Gang of Four. He left the hall at the end and perhaps not terribly inspired by what he had seen or heard, said to his fellow comrades “if only they can hear the Vienna Philharmoniker play.”) And one, albeit costly, way of achieving this aim is to engage highly competent and knowledgeable musicians from abroad to fill the original posts because of the paucity of experienced local players, but those few of the latter would ultimately be the beneficiaries by playing alongside them. When the choir I once sang with, the Selangor Phil, did Haydn Die Schopfung, the conductor had to perforce fly in from Down Under, a contra-bassoonist who was attached to the Western Australian Youth Orchestra because the National Symphony Orchestra (which performed with us) didn’t have one for this sublime piece. It is my hope, and I am sure one that is shared by every music lover in this beautiful country of ours, that one day we can have an orchestra whose every player is not only a home grown one but which can rise to the occasion and blow us with, say, the soaring Mahler Eight Symphony, a humongous work which requires a competent orchestra, various choirs and trained soloists to boot (though we have a few great sopranos, tenors, baritones here). But let us get the orchestra first and talk about the choirs then….

    • Gustav Mahler says:

      Lady

      In what way do you still could not understand the situation? Regardless of who perform in the MPO, when key musicians are good they are assets to the orchestra. The only furniture in the orchestra is YOU!!!!! Look at the Berliner Philharmoniker, we have Asians in that Orchestra, we have Americans in that Orchestra, so what, should we also change the name of the Berliner? Why not the Berliner consist of just the Berliners? Who cares who perform in the MPO, if you are so clever go ahead show us what you have, you will be the greatest joke in the world. I think you do not have what it takes to be a leader of a music organisation, anyway you are just another piece of furniture in the DFP!!!!!

  44. Upset music lover says:

    Malaysia always starts up with a grand idea, such as a world class orchestra and then loses interest in sustainaining that grand idea…..particularly if the originators of the idea in the first place are no longer around. What typically happens is that the grand project descends into mediocrity due to lack of support and funding. I plea to PETRONAS to stop this from happening to the MPO and bring it back to its former glory. PETRONAS needs to put music lovers in the management seats rather than corporate heads who are clueless about music.

    • Gustav Mahler says:

      I agree fully, said it well Upset Music Lover. We need munsic lovers to run the MPO and DFP and not some high pay cheque collector.

  45. just a thought says:

    @lady,

    There is no way that the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra can continue to play on a world class level if the highly qualified international musicians are exchanged with locally educated Malaysians. You will just have another NSO or MPYO.

    Paying less salary certainly sounds good to the management but in the end you get what you pay for.

    Don’t worry: if the quality and salary of the orchestra goes down any further the last remaining top expat musicians will leave on their own.

    But considering that the MPO just announced another round of international auditions all this seems NOT to be about filling the Orchestra with Malaysians.

    It looks a lot like the personal revenge of the music director who wants to punish the players who opposed him and his renewal.

    • Gustav Mahler says:

      U are right. Lady If you intent to fill the MPO seats with Malaysians, WHY????????? are u opening up for foreign auditions??????? Please explain that to all supporters of the MPO musicians!!!!!!! We demand an explanation!!!!!!!!!!!

      • More anonymity says:

        It sounds like “Lady” is being completely and totally sarcastic in her post, or at least I hope she is.

  46. Tony Montana says:

    Dear Lady,

    Pray tell us where you get the information that with departure of the 9 musicians, more Malaysians will fill up the vacant posts in the orchestra. As far as concerned despite recent round of auditions, we have yet to see increase in numbers of local musicians playing as guest performers, let alone gaining a permanent position in the orchestra. I’ve heard stories of outstanding local musicians auditioning few times but rejected in vain then finally signed up with orchestras such as Qatar Philharmonic. I am sure some of these individuals do not mind playing back in their homeland even with inferior pay, perks and privileges compared abroad but alas they cannot if they are not given a chance to do so.

  47. Dear Lady,

    It is not overtly wrong of someone to show love for his or her country and taking pride in its achievements for which, such sentiments make up the notion of patriotism. Such people are indeed preferable to those who, in perceiving the smallest slight the opportunity to denigrate their country, do so with contumely as if blind to its redeeming features or the accomplishments of its past and present. Every country in this world has its own shortcomings and accepting this in all humility, is the first step in facing the truth about ourselves, however unpalatable or disconcerting this might be. And the truth, as it is said, sometimes hurt. Malaysia, like any other country has its own problems but through the vision of its founding father, Tuanku Abdul Rahman (our own Abraham Lincoln, it can be said) laid down the the template for which the world can only marvel at. Where the multiculturalism of other countries are a contrived imposition, ours organically evolved. Except those who are ethnocentric to a fault, many here pride themselves in being Malaysian first and foremost. Kuala Lumpur today, like most modern cities elsewhere is cosmopolitan and home to people from everywhere who come here to make a living or market their skills where these are wanted, or in short supply. We can certainly show the world a thing or two but by the same token we can learn a thing or two from the world. Where once we imported certain expertise, today we can boast that we are exporting this very same expertise to countries which desperately need them. But there are still some areas where the deficit shows and here, since you know and I know what they are, let the matter rest. But be wary that misplaced confidence in things which we judge to be not in need of further instruction can sometimes lead to self-deception, or worse, self-delusion. It can be said with justification that all that is required to re-assure ourselves that all is well, can be found in the phrase “just do your best”. But sometimes it will do us no great harm to ask ourselves, “is our best good enough?”

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