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The Malaysian Philharmonic: a list of victims

It has all gone quiet in Kuala Lumpur as an election looms and the petrochemical bosses continue to dismantle the flagship orchestra. The conductor Claus Peter Flor has collaborated in this process and has refused to discuss it with musicians.

There are presently 20 vacancies in the orchestra. By September there will be 30. Musicians who are invited to audition should be aware that the job is very short term. Members of the orchestra have asked us to publicize a list of those who were sacked. We do so with sorrow.

The Musicians Affected:
1. Concertmaster, 14 years of service to the orchestra, since its inception in 1998. Married with two young children, the eldest still in preschool. He spoke out against Maestro Flor’s attempt to install, on at least one occasion, a female violinist who reportedly had a close personal relationship with the MD, but who had received no positive votes at all from the Violin section. He has written on many occasions to management urging them to respect and uphold a fair audition process, with voting guidelines and transparent procedures, for the benefit of the orchestra and its reputation abroad. NON-RENEWED as of August 15, 2012!
2. Assoc Concertmaster, 14 years of service to the orchestra, since its inception in 1998. Heavily involved, for years in the education of young Malaysian musicians, and many volunteer programs through the orchestra’s Education and Outreach programs, coaching the Youth Orchestra (MPYO). She has one child in college, and another young one in school in Malaysia. No justifiable theory can even be put forward on this case, other than support for the current concertmaster and his pursuit of a fair audition process. NON-RENEWED as of August 15, 2012!
3. Principal Timpani, 14 years of service to the orchestra, since its inception in 1998. He has been heavily involved, for years in the education of young aspiring Malaysian musicians, and many volunteer programs through the orchestra’s Education and Outreach programs. He was recently married – and management, on Feb. 15, 2012, took it upon themselves to deliver the message by phone to him on his honeymoon, to inform him of his non-renewal, a truly disgraceful reflection on Petronas and Malaysian society. He, like the concertmaster, has written on many occasions to management urging them to respect and uphold a fair audition process, with voting guidelines and transparence, for the benefit of the orchestra and its reputation abroad. NON-RENEWED as of August 15, 2012!
4. Principal Trombone, 14 years of service to the orchestra, since its inception in 1998.  Heavily involved, for years in the education of young Malaysian musicians, and many volunteer programs through the orchestra’s Education and Outreach programs, coaching the Youth Orchestra (MPYO). Is married to a local lady,with one young child, and speaks Bahasa Malaysia at a very proficient level. It is speculated that voicing support for a previous, very dynamic, yet deposed CEO, Karina Ridzuan, was his “crime” in this scenario. NONRENEWED as of August 15, 2012!
5. Tutti Violist, 12 years of service to the orchestra, since 2000. Involved, for years in the education of young aspiring Malaysian musicians, and many volunteer programs through the orchestra’s Education and Outreach programs, coaching the Youth Orchestra (MPYO), and appeared frequently in chamber music and contemporary programs. She has also, meticulously created and translated program announcements, every month on a volunteer basis, for years, for a major Japanese publication, distributed to Japanese living in Kuala Lumpur, attracting countless new patrons to the hall. She is the spouse of the violinist, just below, having met in the orchestra and with a young child. It is speculated she is being dumped out with her spouse, just for added ‘impact’. If she remains, her husband would be entitled to a spousal visa, and their child entitled to continue school with costs covered. NON-RENEWED as of August 15, 2012!

6. Tutti 1st Violinist, 9 years of service to the orchestra, since 2003. He left a 14-year post in a major Canadian orchestra, to join the MPO. Involved, for years in many volunteer programs through the orchestra’s Education and Outreach programs, coaching the Youth Orchestra (MPYO), and chamber music. He is the spouse of the Tutti Violist mentioned above, and they have a young child together. He was past Chairperson of the Orchestra Committee – a volunteer post, elected by his peers to represent them to management. The new CEO stated that she “did not recognize the committee” and refused any meetings with it. Having no previous orchestral managing experience, it is baffling to everyone how she can simply ignore this traditional committee, and further disgusting that she has targeted this post. NON-RENEWED as of August 15, 2012!

7. Tutti Percussionist, has played in total 5 years with the MPO over two periods. She made the decision to return to the orchestra after some years off. Involved, for years in many volunteer programs through the orchestra’s Education and Outreach programs. She is married to another non-MPO musician and teacher, who has relocated to Kuala Lumpur with her to build a life together here. She served on the Orchestra Committee at the same time as the aforementioned Chairperson. Why she was singled out for this non-renewal is simply a mystery. Two fellow percussion members have tendered their 6 month notice of resignation following the Feb 15 announcements. One did so purely out of disgust for management’s heartless actions. Out of five players in that section,only the Principal remains, currently.
8, 9,: The other two positions, which will probably not be contested in a legal action are: Principal Pianist – the position is supposedly being eliminated in favor of part time substitutes; and Section Viola – has reached a few years beyond the retirement age (of 55) in the contract and was not expecting to be renewed this time, although the retirement age of 55 is also quite odd since musicians easily play until their mid-60’s elsewhere and the Malaysian government just recently increased the age of mandatory retirement for public servants to 65. There are other
musicians over 55, remaining in the orchestra – so once again, the decision appears quite arbitrary

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Comments

  1. Jennifer Alexander says:

    An abomination!!!!!

  2. Matthew Lynch says:

    Once again subpar European conductor goes to developing country to have his way with everyone. These are the conductors to watch out for. Maybe they should just make him President of his own Island. Something similar happened in Brazil this past year. This will destroy the orchestra.

  3. Chris Frankland says:

    What is it about this beautiful country? They have a great idea, it gets off to a great start, and then when things are going really well they f*** up. Another embarrassment I’m afraid for the long suffering malaysians who get the arts on a trickle feed, once it is deemed appropriate by people who know nothing about it. . We don’t have a lot of world class stuff here, but hey everyone, we did once have a world class orchestra….just for a while. Tell that to your grandchildren. Thanks MPO. Your orchestra brought a lot of joy to a lot of people. The Petronas profits will no longer be going your way> Another stab in the back for the Arts in Malaysia.

    • Hello, i am a musician possibly (was?) interested in applying to MPO for a job. Can someone please tell me more about what is going on there? Clearly I d o not want to leave one good job for a crappy, and maybe very sort-term job elsewhere, even if it’s a gorgeous and exotic country like Malaysia…

  4. Andrea Lysack says:

    This news saddens me. I played cello for one year (2002-2003) with the MPO under Kees Bakels. The learning curve was always steep as I had the privilege of working with finely trained musicians and a killer maestro. Some of these musicians still remain in the orchestra. I hope they can come through this terrible time.

  5. Hugues Tremblay says:

    I just want to say that I know the timpanist and I can tell that he’s such a great player so it’s certainly not for musical reasons he’s not renewed!!

    • Hi Hugues, i was possibly interested in applying to MPO, but this situation seems insane! Do you have any more info about wtf is going over there? Would be highly appreciated.

  6. Diane Jackson says:

    Shameful and alarming! How is this possible? Of the entire orchestra, only one has a voice? I fervently hope that the MPO will find a savior by August 15th 2012. Their first task would be to sack Claus Peter Flor and those who are attempting to manipulate the integrity of the MPO for their own reasons.

  7. JaschaHeifetz says:

    I heard that the Petronas board want to get rid of the MPO entirely. Is that true?

    If so, the whole Petronas board is a whole load of uncultured “clumps”. They
    apparently also will want to get rid of the F1 race at Sepang as well.

  8. A professional musician says:

    I have been working in a professional orchestra in Asia for 2 years and musicians here more than anywhere else are truly slaves in the business. Music directors and management are dictators and destroyers of our sacred art making it a purely a cold hearted business with tons of politics. The stories I have would ill a book and shock anyone thinking of pursuing classical music. The only thing worse than all of that is the indifference and willingness to blindly crawl about as thousands of fellow “musicians” do, instead of standing together to save the art and rid of politics and authoritarian rule.

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