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Vienna orchestra denies ‘sexist, racist’ motives for firing principal flute

Johannes Neubert, managing director of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, has responded promtly to our request for a response to claims from within the orchestra that Jasmine Nakyung Choi was fired as principal flute on sexist and racist grounds, as reported earlier. Here is his letter:

vienna symphony


Dear Mr Lebrecht

Without doubt Jasmine is a wonderful musician, and she has indeed been playing on top form all season. And of course, every negative decision about a trial year is controversial and therefore everyone can question if the decision was the right one.

There is absolutely no reason to assume that the decision of our players was based on race or gender, though. The Vienna Symphony hired its first female musicians in 1987; our musicians come from 16 different nations (including countries like Kazakhstan, Japan, P.R. China, Australia and the United States of America). We see ourselves as an Austrian ensemble, but purely in a musical sense. It does not matter for us where our new colleagues were born or whether they are male or female. We want to carry forward the tradition of Austrian music making; this connects us, nothing else. Therefore we will continue to hire female musicians, and without doubt this will include all kinds of nationalities. However, now as well as in the future, it must be possible that our musicians make their decisions without being called racist or sexist.

With best wishes
Johannes Neubert

Managing Director
Wiener Symphoniker
(Vienna Symphony)

PS: By the way, it is not true that we asked Jasmine to play for another year. In the meantime, she has decided not to play any further projects and everyone accepts and understands this.

UPDATE: Jamsine Choi replies here.

Here is Jasmine playing in the Vienna SO:

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  1. James Brinton says:

    I notice that he doesn’t really state the reason.

    • Fabio Fabrici says:

      Because there is no “reason”. The “reason” is that the orchestra members have voted, it’s the standard procedure. No voting member has to give a reason for his/her vote.
      An orchestra member might be able to leak some rumors or internal discussions, but that still doesn’t give the full picture. And a managing director would of course not give interna to the public, that would be unprofessional.

      In the clip above, her intonation is problematic btw.

      • anothermusician says:

        She’s a fine player, & I’ve heard a lot of good things about her. I’ve heard many of her YouTube solo performances & various orchestral recordings. But I have to agree about intonation, she plays too sharp here, & the intervals weren’t always even.

      • “In the clip…intonation is problematic” You can’t judge intonation from a YouTube clip. You really have to be in the hall to make that call.

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          of course you can judge intonation from a recording. You shouldn’t judge the coloration of sound from a recording, since microphones etc. can alter the sound, but the intonation – absolute frequency – is not altered.

      • Adrian k says:

        Fabio is correct in assessing the mechanics of a trial/audition procedure – people 2nd-guessing reasons for the result in these comments pages regarding this 1st Flute position a merely creating more innuendo where there was none.

        “M”s comments below are also correct.
        As reference, factors that can influence an outcome in any trial/audition process can include, but are not limited to
        1) Ensemble skills within a section
        2) General experience in the profession and the training up to point of entry
        3) General knowledge-base of repertoire styles – often orchestra-centric.
        4) other factors not expressed in performance necessarily, but that become apparent in rehearsal processes.

        ConorG below, suggets that “..if it depends on votes, does it not make it more a popularity contest than an artistic decision making process?..”
        This competely misses the point that a Vote takes place at all, as part of a Democratic process.
        And by the way, NO, it is not a popularity contest, such decisions are taken by the full Audition Committee (maybe the whole orch?) after usually stressful and long discussion.
        Any suggestion of jealousy – I simply discount it. It just doesn’t happen that way.

        I am quite dissapointed to read in the original article “..We hear strong background rumours of sexism and racism from within the orchestra..”
        One should be more careful journalistically in such an open public forum, I would have thought.
        Orchestras can be sometimes divided in some respects, and although a vote is democratically cast, naturally some may not be in favour of a particular result.
        Please be careful when commenting about the results of Auditions/trials. Such discussion, of itself, could have a detrimental effect on any of the Artists involved, on both sides of the fence.

        • “And by the way, NO, it is not a popularity contest, such decisions are taken by the full Audition Committee (maybe the whole orch?) after usually stressful and long discussion.”

          I don’t see how that precludes its being a popularity contest.

      • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

        As a tone-deaf clarinetist. I thank you for pointing out the intonation problems which escaped me. I thought it was the English hornist who was struggling.

        It’s also clear to me that Jasmine’s body-language, while perfectly acceptable elsewhere, might annoy her colleagues who seem much more sedate.

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          The English hornist is a different story altogether. He won his tenure probably a long time ago ;) and he also doesn’t fall into the section leader category.

          • A “ranz des vaches” is a simple piece. It’s expression is “semplice”: The herdsmen, who were singing these songs, weren’t trained Bel Canto Opera Singers. Alpine phrasing is short, not long (cf. autochthonous Alpine folk music). The Cor Anglais player’s overall expression is way closer to a simple pastoral Alpine setting than the flute player’s is.

          • Austrian: except that he’s playing about a 1/4 tone sharp. The Cor Anglais is really really out of tune in the clip.

          • Apparently the herdsmen who were singing these songs were a little nervous.

    • I also notice that she’s playing everyone else off the stage in the clip…

      • Fabio Fabrici says:

        Which would be a very bad thing, since the part with her solo is about a solemn pastoral scene, not about a muscular sports contest. But maybe Mrs. Choi like you has not grasped what the music is actually about…

        • This is even the worst thing she can do! Not only, because it’s a solemn pastoral scene. But also because it’s a Cor Anglais melody with subordinated flauto accompagnato. The flute part is not intended to be a flute concerto or to present a star flutist. The Cor Anglais admittedly has some weaknesses, but the flute would have had to accompany the Cor Anglais anyway. That’s one of those differences between a pure soloist and an orchestral musician.

        • Don Stein says:

          What a bunch of BS. This wouldn’t even become a conversation if Pahud played it like that. People would just say, “Oh, that’s Pahud.”

          They don’t hate her because she’s Korean. They hate her because she’s not Austrian.

          • Yep. You said it, Don.

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            Pahud wouldn’t play like that. Simple as that.
            Bullshit – even in bunches – is also part of pastoral scenes, so you are not completely wrong about that.
            And who hates her? As far as we know from this blog, many people hate Austria, Vienna or the orchestras in Vienna. I have not read any hatred of Jasmine Choi here to the contrary.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Funny, they have plenty of musicians who aren’t Austrians in the orchestra already. And Pahud isn’t Austrian either. So according to you, they would “hate him”. You are making less and less sense.

  2. Exactly, James. Strange too that it was reported that she was asked to stay on, and yet he said they didn’t. About time they got into the 21 Century, and employed properly like most orchestras. You’re either good enough to do the job or you aren’t, but getting voted in or out isn’t great, and they open themselves up to all kinds of accusations. Sounds like internal politics but I’m no expert.

    • Una, I don’t quite understand. They do seem to employ “like most orchestras” – those seeking to fill a vacant position go through a trial process, at the end of which some decision mechanism (the section voting, the committee voting, the orchestra voting, whatever it may be, which is both position and orchestra specific) produces an invitation to stay or a negative result.
      What about their procedure seems wildly different to “most orchestras”?

      • I wasn’t aware, and forgive me if it’s my ignorance as a singer, that the whole orchestra voted on whether someone stayed or went. How do they assess a violinist in the middle of the seconds, where there are many and where they are not heard so individualistically? The flute is so prevalent and so easy bate to go on about intonation, body language and all of that, but I do wonder how the rest get chosen – or told to go? But thanks for putting me right. I was not aware that we ran out orchestras in England the same way as they did in Vienna :)

  3. Bigots rarely admit that they’re bigots.

  4. Perhaps they wanted her to sit bolt upright, like the rest in that clip :)

    • “The rest” in this Guillaume-Tell clip do a great job, accompanying the Cor Anglais solo.

  5. To confirm or not a musician after the trial period, it’s something completely normal; all orchestras do that.
    When someone is not confirmed (and this happens VERY often), it’s because the orchestra judges that he/she doesn’t have the level required, or. that his/her profile is not the one that the orchestra is looking for.

    This rule is the same for everyone and it’s the guarantee of excellence of a great orchestra like this one.
    The “rumors” (…) of sexism and even racism are totally unfounded, and I find it dangerous to talk about such delicate matters for nothing.
    One can refer to the orchestra’s website to check the impressive number of women playing in the orchestra ( the Assistant Principal, Alexandra Uhlig) and their nationalities (japanese etc.).

    Since a year ago she won the competition, I believe that the arguments of sexism and racism are completely unfounded.

  6. AFAIK she’s a fabulous player, but denial of tenure is a pretty standard thing in the orchestra world, and I could imagine that someone trained in America like Jasmine Choi could make people wonder – rightly or wrongly – about whether she could “fit in.” Maybe she just doesn’t fit in; why not ask about the Vienna SO’s overall tenure rate?

    • Again, excuse my ignorance, but why then did they even consider her if there were a chance of her not fitting in, however good she played? It is such a male dominated environment, and I’m suspicious of it all, if I were honest. But maybe I’m just plain wrong. I think there is jealousy and envy involved as well as anything else, and that’s just dangerous and self-destructive for everyone. She’ll do okay and probably become a soloist in the end, and show the lot up!!

      • In an audition/competition, it’s not possible to check candidates’ abilities of cooperation/interplay with the other musicians of the orchestra. The trial year is exactly for testing these parameters in practice.
        The Guillaume Tell video shows that she actually did not fit the orchestra. Personality, interpretation, rubato, body movements – it does not matter, whether or not you like her playing, or whether or not you like the other musician’s playing or their (hardly existing) body movements. In fact, the video shows big differences between her and the rest of the orchestra. This is one of the reasons, why she finally didn’t fit this particular position in this particular orchestra.
        Conversely, it is imaginable that several musicians of the VSO would not fit eg. Simon Bolivar orchestra, because their movements would be too stationary in the environmnt of Simon Bolivar orchestra. That’s quite fair, isn’t it? Let’s be glad that there are different orchestras with different goals and different intentions!

        • The absurd implication is that a musician even with Ms. Choi’s abilities is incapable of playing with out moving around, and that she can’t adapt to concepts of style or interpretation, which is of course absurd. And of course, no evidence is provided that she was asked to make any changes and that she was unable to meet them.

          I have repeatedly seen that among the bigots in these orchestras the object is not to further integration, but to hinder it, even when integration would be easily possible. We are thus to believe the Viennese style is something so arcane that outsiders cannot adapt to it. Vienna is to remain the exclusive location of musical authenticity that others cannot have and cannot adapt to. This is the essence of bigotry.

          • How is integration possible if this woman didn’t bother to learn German? It’s not the locals job to speak her language, it is hers to learn the local language. Just it is mine to learn some bloody Indian dialect when I go there in a few weeks for roughly 2 years – yes temporarily to lead a project and yes, they do speak English – but to get integrated properly and learn my ways there properly I will learn one or two local languages. It is my duty as a foreigner to do so – not theirs to accomodate me.

          • And no it isn’t absurd to judge a musician based on body movement. I am a relative of violinist who can’t stand people in her section moving they upper bodies. And indeed that orchestra sits pretty still all the time, while many members of other orchestras constantly are “on the move”.

          • In fact, there are many foreign musicians in Viennese orchestras, that were able to adapt to Viennese style. The mentioned Australian hornist of the VSO is an excellent example, the superb Bulgarian female concert master of the VPO is another. They do an excellent job! They are fully respected members of their orchestras.
            (BTW: I’m neither a member of the VSO nor of the VPO.)

            ” no evidence is provided that she was asked to make any changes and that she was unable to meet them.”
            Ridiculous argument, eh? It was neither a position for a student (that has to be taught in every bar how to play it), nor an orchestra academy position (where to learn how to integrate in an orchestra). It was a trial year for her on a professional principal position! In this position, it was her own responsibility – and nobody else’s – to learn about the style, the requirements, the expectations, the traditions.

            As the Guillaume Tell video shows, she was out of tempo, out of tune, out of acceptable rubato. It seems to me that she even confused the Cor Anglais soloist. In this video, she was unable to adapt naturally to the style of the orchestra. That’s concrete evidence, that’s a fact. Therefore it is completeley superfluous to debate in an “abstract” manner on “oh, she’s such an excellent player, she certainly could have adapted to… etc.”. In this concrete particular video, in this concrete particular performance, she didn’t. Period.

            Nobody claimed Vienna to be the exclusive location of musical authenticity. So, please, stop making such allegations! An “exclusive location of musical authenticity” would even be ridiculous: On Earth, there is Chinese music, Japanese music, French music, Russian music, American music, Indian music, African music, only to mention a few.
            Nobody in Vienna expects American orchestras to play perfect “Viennese style”. So please, be so fair and do not force Viennese orchestras to play US or UK style. Neiter US nor UK are “exclusive locations of musical authenticity”. It is sheer imperialism to try to force every orchestra in the world to behave English or American. Please understand, that such trials of imperialism are not accepted in other countries, and in this sense, please accept, that Viennese orchestras in Vienna frequently and mainly play Viennese style.

          • Yes, quite a few foreigners, but a notable lack of Asians, especially considering how many have studied in Vienna.

          • Most Asian students of music in Vienna never intended to stay here for life.
            Some Asian countries/granting systems require their recipients to return to their home country after having completed their studies. I know of several former students of music of Chinese origin, who where only allowed to travel to Vienna if they would accept a teaching position in China afterwards.

            Moreover, Asians would be in the need of a permanent Visum for EU countries; it quite often happens, that the EU country or their home country doesn’t approve the visum.

            Bilateral contracts between the various states often differ tremendously. It makes no sense to compare the situation of foreign students and their ongoing career in one country to the situation in any other country without mentioning the different international bilateral contracts.

  7. “Standard procedure” or not, if it depends on votes, does it not make it more a popularity contest than an artistic decision making process?

    Could the other members be jealous of her fame as a soloist (especially back in Korea)?

    • Artists envious of other artists?! Never!!!!!

      • Only the ones who are second rate are envious. The artists I have met, be they instrumentalists or my fellow professional singers, most of the time in all the years I have performed have indeed been very generous. Envy only makes for bad music making and poor spirit, and you will always get ‘back seat drivers’ who think they can do the job better than those who are already doing it. While you are judging someone, there is another judging you twice as badly, and it pays to be generous towards your fellow musicians.

    • Maybe other flutists were jealous of here because she is young, Asian, and has been trained in the U.S. I don’t think anyone can ask her musical talent and form..

      • Fabio Fabrici says:

        Of course you can question her musicality. In the clip shown she does not serve the music or the orchestra but herself. That is a show of bad musicianship. Technically she is apparently an accomplished player.

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          She also articulates the first notes badly. These are two sixteenth notes followed by an eighth note.
          I hear “ta-taa” the way she plays, I can’t hear the two sixteenth notes in the upbeat, she is smearing the two sixtheenth notes into one. That’s pretty basic stuff a world class player should be able to control.

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          listen here, 5:00 in

          and hear the correct articulation in the beginning of the flute solo.
          Also in this example the flute player does not use such excessive rubati as she does – stylistically questionable for Rossini – and creates a much better flow and pulse in the music.

          • Don Stein says:

            Horrible, unnatural vibrato. Try again.

          • Oh, come on, Fabio. You’ve got to be kidding. Nanny goat vibrato (way too fast), lots of intonation problems – esp. 3rd octave D which is flat every single time, high G at the end out of tune with EH. Rushes all the way thru, esp. noticeable in the opening lyrical passages, where they rush out of the tied note too soon. Later in the technical places, the ornaments are incorrectly placed out of synch with the EH.

            This is an old recording and without checking it against a tuner, it’s abnormally fast, so I think it’s been speeded up. Someone should check where the opening middle D where the flute solo starts is pitch wise. I’d bet it’s closer to an Eb. Not the performer’s fault, but this is a pretty lame recording to hold up as an example.

            It’s really hard to find a decent video of this solo, because quite frankly it’s very difficult to play well. Keep looking. This is definitely not a good example, or even a decent recording.

        • She has personality, that’s all! A bit rich, Fabio, sorry!

          • Basically and in general, the Viennese style of playing is not about subjective “personal” playing and it’s not about “profiling” or “self-expression”. It’s much more about serving the music and about subordinating oneself and one’s personality completely to the intentions of the composer.
            Maybe this differs from how making music is considered in the U.S. Maybe, it’s a simple “culture clash”. Maybe this might also explain to U.S. readers, why several other VSO musicians in this video hardly show any body moves; it’s rather kind of concentrated devotion, and less “presentation” or “show”.

            In this sense, a complete video of the full Rossini performance could be of interest: The Viennese style of economic phrasing often allows for a bigger architecture of the full performance of the whole piece.

          • Part of the bigot’s mindset in these orchestras is to problematize the Viennese style so that it can be used as a means of exclusion against those they do not like. A musician of Ms. Choi’s caliber could quickly adapt to any requests made concerning style, decorum, posture, tradition, etc. Instead, those with more bigoted mindsets stand back and simply look for and catalog means of exclusion. The Viennese style is portrayed as an arcane awareness that can only be passed on through some sort of physical inheritance that often takes on a distinctly racist tinge. This is why thousands of excellent Asian musicians have been fully educated at Vienna’s University of Music, but that none of them have been tenured into the Philharmonic, and almost none into the Symphoniker.

          • Exactly, Una. As Austrian and Fabio say, the Viennese style is not about personality but about precision and subjecting oneself to the composer’s creation. This hint, you can get with the “Vienna Symphonic Library”: a catalogue of all instruments in all pitches and all lengths of pitch etc, so one is able to create music without the help of actual people. In fact, the program is so revolutionary that it deletes all personality whatsoever: you simply plug in the dynamics and tempo markings of the composer, and voila, you have the composer’s original intentions. Because you follow the composer’s markings so absolutely, it is the one and only interpretation that is acceptable (hence the resource for this method is called the Vienna Symphonic Library). This program will also make obsolete the mass havoc caused in the media and various Viennese orchestras being ridiculed as racist and sexist, because it is pre-recorded.

            I suggest you look into this program, because it is pure Viennese style, through and through. It will correct all the problems that those who know the authentic style have with Jasmine’s playing: no-one needs to move (except the sound engineer’s fingers – this is the concentrated devotion mentioned above, perhaps), it gives perfect articulation so the two notes that Fabio pointed out are rectified, and most importantly, it succumbs to the composer’s intention by deleting all sense of personality and self-expression. I deplore the use of music for such methods of expressions and think that we should all adopt the Viennese Symphonic Library as our Big Brother.

          • Anon: “no-one needs to move (except the sound engineer’s fingers”

            That’s a good argument: Somewhere, there must be someone to make decisions, make choices. In your example, it would be the sound engineer. Simply stringing together sound after sound of the VSL at random would not automatically result in Viennese style. Anyway, this would be a nice idea to try out, somewhat “aleatoric-like”. Maybe there is a composer who will take up this idea?

          • Mr. Osborne:
            You seem to ignore the fact, that in both VSO and VPO, Viennese musicians are in fact a vanishing minority! A big part of musicians in Vienna are not even Austrian or German. Most of the “classical” musicians in Vienna stem from Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Slowenia, Croatia, Slovakia, …

            Please allow me to quote you; you claimed: “The Viennese style is portrayed as an arcane awareness that can only be passed on through some sort of physical inheritance”
            Tell me, please, in your opinion: Which miracle happend to all of these Hungarians, Bulgarians, Romanians, etc.? What happened to them “physically”? In your opinion – did they undergo plastical surgergy to become “physically Viennese” (whatever this should be)?

            Maybe it will come to you as a surprise, when I’d tell you, that “Viennese style” is rather the result of a particular kind of conglomerate of styles, which have their origins in various different cultures and various different nationalities?

            Your arguments show me, that you have hardly any realistic idea of Vienna, of the people that live here. You seem to be completely ignorant in this respect. You throw in stereotypes. You throw in stereotypes at an abstract level of discussion, that almost completely lacks any connection to reality here and now.

          • Anonymous says:

            Wow, Dear Austrian, your sense of humor is stunning. Well, äh… let me know if you find that composer.

          • The Viennese style could indeed be considered a conglomerate of lower Danubian and German styles with a touch of Italy as well. Nothing an Asian who had studied in Vienna for 5 or 6 years couldn’t learn. So why are so few present?

          • To my mind, 5-6 years would be too short to learn “Viennese style” in depth. Till 2002, a full study of a musical instrument took 7-8 mandatory years (in 2002/03, University systems changed in EU for an assimilation of the former different national systems). Besides, playing in a Viennese student’s orchestra differs from playing in one of the established Viennese professional orchestras. So, studies without an orchestra academy position would not suffice to learn Viennese style in depth. In fact, there are Asian students in orchestra academy positions.

            The main point, however, is, that their student visa or their home country require them to return periodically to their home country during study. Some countries require their students to return for several years to their home country after completion of their studies. Several countries want their students to study abroad, but to bring in their expertise in their home country afterwards, to avoid massive “brain drain”. Therefore, most Asian students of music in Vienna never intended to stay here for life.

            As for the students, travelling back and forth becomes successively expensive. If their studies take longer than previously intended, some of them run out of money (and out of grants), and they decide to leave Austria. Austrian Universities do not have a granting system comparable to U.S. universities; these two systems are completely different and incomparable.

            As for the working conditions, there is no system comparable to the U.S. “Green card” for foreign citizens. Non-EU-citizens are required to follow EU laws and EU regulations. When Austria joined the EU in 1995, it had to adapt several laws to EU requirements. This made it successively easer for EU-citizens, to work in Austria. It made it successively more difficult for Non-EU-citizens, to work in an EU country.

            This situation is not connected to any form of “racism”; this situation is rather a consequence of international or bilateral contracts, and of international politics.

    • Adrian k says:

      ConorG, I need to point out that by definition, voting is a Democratic process.
      In this context, I can tell you there is much discussion before a vote is taken by the Panel, which might even be the whole orchestra.

      The notion of jealousy in this procedure is simply not a factor.

    • And what other way do you see as being preferable to reach a decision, which would in your view be more fair and less open to criticism?

  8. Jaette Carpenter says:

    It states in the article that the claims of racism and sexism are coming from within the orchestra itself. This being the case, perhaps there needs to be a bit of an inquiry with those in the orchestra that are making these statements. Sincerely, Jaette Carpenter

    • If they were so racist and sexist, how come they hired her in the first place……? And why the presumption that it must be for racist and/or sexist reasons just because it is a Viennese orchestra? Is that itself not a form of presumptive stereotyping……?

  9. Orchestermusiker says:

    For a section to decide about the outcome of the probationary period, to decide about the future of the section and the future of the candidate, is a great responsibility. It’s mostly difficult because because a 100% agreement about a candidate is the exception.
    However, in the end there is a vote, as simple as that. It’s democracy after all, with all advantages and disadvantages.

    If you don’t get enough votes you gotta go. It’s something what happenes quite often. And then you are not “fired” because there was never a full job. Just a probationary period.

    I think it is an important right that the musicians of an orchestra can have a say who will sit next to them for the next 40 years or so. No question that often there are personal reasons for voting against somebody, but I would doubt that it was about gender or racism. Far too easy and cheap to start rumors like that.

    • There is no such thing as a perfect human being and a perfect musician, so they’re going to keep putting good people on their own scrap heap, and search and search and search, and then still hire someone who is far from perfect. There’s also something wrong too with musicians wanting to be in one orchestra for 40 years, and not have any ambition to move on!

      • In most orchestras, it is not possible to get a new job beyond a certain age. There is no “move on”. Being full part of the orchestra is the highest achievable state.

      • Paul D. Sullivan, Boston US says:

        Ms Barry,

        “There’s also something wrong too with musicians wanting to be in one orchestra for 40 years, and not have any ambition to move on!”….

        What can possibly be wrong with a talented musician wanting to spend their career in a top orchestra. Have they not put in years and years of study and practice to attain that position? Like the rest of us they have families and homes to support. They are making a good wage, benefits and vacation time. Many are teachers of students and also faculty members of conservatories, passing on their knowledge, and have deep roots in the cities they live. It is their very “ambition” that got them in the ranks of the best. Most of these folks have spent time, as young players, moving up through lesser orchestras to the high positions they have today. I think it somewhat ludicrous for you say they have no ambition!

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      @Orchestermusiker: Your point about deciding who will sit next to you for the next forty years or so should not be underplayed. It’s a big decision. I know a few orchestral musicians who suffer daily because of their neighbours and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

      I also remember a debate concerning an English timpanist in a minor German orchestra who was being assessed for tenure. He’d played for about seven years with the LSO but fancied a permanent position abroad. His playing was excellent and he was about to be voted through seemingly unanimously when the final orchestra rep stood up. He started banging on about ‘never having heard a true pianissimo from {this player}’ etc etc. Feet were shuffled, people started getting irritated, wishing this bloke would sit down so they could all go off on their coffee break. Twenty minutes later, this rep came out with the following statement: “Herr {Timpanist} might be good enough for the LSO, but is he good enough for us?”. At this point, someone stood up and said “Um Gottes Willen, das reicht aber jetzt!”. The timpanist was voted in.

  10. [redacted: abuse, inaccuracy] I hope that William Osborne weighs in here, as I have come to admire his work greatly. While I understand that he has Philharmoniker contacts who remain unnamed in his reports, he has used these sources to detail concrete instances of sexist treatment [redacted]. (Actually given Neubert’s intervention, I am curious to learn what of William’s reports the Philharmoniker has denied or indeed not denied. I suspect that Hellsberg does not deign to comment on specifics, but either way, it would be telling).

    • In SD’s latest blog on this topic, I briefly provide some documentation about the history of anti-Asian attitudes in Viennese orchestras. See:

      As I note, it would be mistaken to think these attitudes have simply vanished. We should also note that the Wiener Symphoniker has the second to lowest ratio of women members in the world — behind only the Philharmonic.

      • William,

        I am familiar with your Sugiyama post and am certainly not one to argue that such attitudes have vanished. On the other hand I am not convinced that the Philharmoniker’s continuing record of prejudice can be projected so readily onto the Symphoniker and RSO. To say that such attitudes are in the air in Vienna is not something that permits us to jump to conclusions about other orchestras (not to suggest, of course, that you have). I do not mean to suggest that the Symphoniker is a beacon of equality, but it nevertheless has a more positive track record for admitting and retaining female, non-Austrian and indeed non-white members. To my knowledge, the orchestra also does not have a history of statements such as those made by Strasser, Flury and Resel.

        It is encouraging that Choi has come forward, and her claims should not be dismissed lightly. It would be interesting to learn more about what she observed and experienced since the Philharmoniker has learned from Flury and Strasser to modulate the defense of sexist practices, offering fewer overtly questionable justifications for the status quo and instead duping patsies like Oestreich into reporting that they are great reformers while perpetuating such practices in more insincerely “respectable” ways. If such genteel racism is indeed what Choi experienced more detail would be welcome, all the better to challenge it.

        Incidentally, as amusing and even flattering as it is to be smeared by one of this blog’s notorious ‘redactions’, there is nothing abusive or inaccurate about the obversation that rumour-mongering plays into the hands of Clemens Hellsberg.

        • Zwölftöner: In a previous submission, you stated that Jasmine Choi’s claim *should* be dismissed lightly and that Slipped Disc’s report was erroneous. Perhaps you should retract those sour remarks, if you wish to retain credibility.

        • It’s true that the Symphoniker have a better record for diversity. They have the second lowest ratio of women in the world, while the Philharmonic has the lowest.

          I too hope that Ms. Choi will detail her experiences and that scholars and others familiar with Viennese orchestras will help her. Information from her would be invaluable — even if the Symphoniker, in contradiction to their declarations of innocence, would prefer that all be shrouded in silence.

          The views of Asians under discussion come from cultural values that are a part of Viennese musical life and history. They are not specific to the Philharmonic. At this point, documentation has become difficult because the city’s orchestras have seen that the expression of these views damage their reputations. The musicians have thus been silenced. The gag order put on the Symphoniker yesterday is an example. This could also be related to the strictly limited and controlled access to the Philharmonic’s archives, which I believe has affected your work.

          • Please tell me:
            As of today, how many citizens of the republic of Austria (both absolute and relative numbers, please) are full active member of New York Philharmonic?
            Of Chicago Symphony?
            Of Metropolitan Opera Orchestra?
            Of Boston Symphony orchestra?

            Do these numbers show discrimination of Austrian musicians in U.S. orchestras?

          • Anonymous says:


            the issue is not the numbers of musicians. The issue is the treatment of, as you would like to compare, Austrian musicians in America and Asian musicians in Vienna. Although impossible to conduct, it would be very interesting to do private interviews of said musicians about how they feel they are treated in their respective places.

            I speak from personal and second hand experience. Sadly, it seems to me that you have no such experience to speak from, only your brazen nationalism and pride. I would love for you to get to know the Asian musicians in the Vienna Symphony, however many there are. (Someone tell me it’s not one, please.)

          • A first quick look immediately shows (this list is far from complete):
            Ge Song, Vl1
            Maiko Seyama, Vl2
            Kentaro Yoshii, Vlc solo
            There are members, that look Asian, but carry a European name. It also could happen, that there are European looking members who are Asian citizens.

            Even if this list is far from complete, it seems to be far more in relative number than there are permanent citizens in Vienna of Asian origin.

            I brought you some numbers. Now it’s your turn to answer my questions above that you obviously tried to avoid.

  11. There was a sense of relief when her solo was finished. Nobody had to guess where the beat was anymore!

  12. Rob van der Hilst says:

    What to make of this strange reaction from the Vienna Symphony Orchestra: the case is all about an excellent musician as we read, who is (therefore????) unacceptable for the ensemble. What tells this about the artistic level of the orchestra in general. Much, perhaps even very much I am afraid.

    • Sorry, Rob, I don’t understand what point you are making?

    • Mr Oakmountain says:

      Being an excellent soloist does not necessarily make you an ideal section leader or orchestral player (though it does not mean you can’t be). As a trumpet player, I am the greatest fan of Messrs Marsalis and Andre, but I couldn’t possibly see either as, say, principal trumpet of the Berlin, Viennese or any other Philharmonic orchestra on account of their timbre and phrasing being too distinctive to blend with a section.

      • Marsalis and Andre were soloists who made or have made dozens of solo recordings and who never played in orchestras. One is also a jazz musician. It is questionable to compare them to Ms. Choi whose career focus is being an orchestra musician.

  13. Michael Schaffer says:

    Very nice playing! But she has a rather bright sound which doesn’t fit well into the traditional Viennese woodwind sound. That she got her trial period isn’t at all surprising because she is clearly an outstanding flutist, and it is not at all unusual for orchestras to try out principals who are highly qualified even if their sound may not initially fit optimally into the orchestra as many of them have the ability to modify their sound and style of playing to fit better into the orchestra. For instance, the same orchestra has a principal horn who is from Australia and who also played with the Berliner Philharmoniker for a few years – and the sound and playing style of the horns in those two orchestras are very different. But this musician obviously had no problems adopting the traditional Viennese style of horn playing.

    So I wouldn’t be surprised if they simply found that Choi’s style didn’t fit so well with the orchestra and that it hadn’t changed much during the trial period – and that happens quite often especially with wind principals in good orchestras. While there are many who manage to adapt to their new orchestra like the horn player I mentioned above, some don’t adapt so well but that doesn’t mean that they are not good enough. It simply means that it’s not a good match. Choi probably won’t have a big problem getting another principal position, hopefully with an orchestra that she fits in better.

    But as I pointed out in the other thread about this, saying that there must be “racist and sexist” reasons behind that is obviously absurd since if that was the case, she wouldn’t have gotten the trial in the first place.

    • Fabio Fabrici says:

      most knowledgeable post in this thread so far.

      • Good point about the invitation in the first place. But did the entire orchestra vote for the invitation, then? (Because if they didn’t, then the point doesn’t fully stand on its own, I don’t think. Whoever invited her may not have been racist or sexist, but it doesn’t mean the rumors are baseless, since that decision lies with the entire orchestra.)

        But the vote stands, for whatever reasons/rumors. It’s how the system works, for better or for worse.

        • I meant to write that the second circa-110 is posted on this blog. I assume that for a section leader, the whole orchestra votes, but I remember reading somewhere that 20 people voted her in.

          • If true, I can only agree with those who voted her out, when I hear, that she didn’t bother to learn the local language.

            If you take a job anywhere on this planet and don’t bother learning the local tongue, then I’m very sorry to tell you not to take any more of my ticket or tax money. Just go back to where you came from, if you don’t care about integrating.

          • Anonymous says:

            You would be delighted to find out that someone posted on this blog that Choi took daily 3-hour German lessons.

          • “Just go back to where you came from, if you don’t care about integrating.”

            Unfortunate choice of phrase. Or telling, perhaps…

          • Theodore McGuiver says:

            @Halidor: No. As foreigners we should feel a duty to integrate as a mark of respect and – yes- gratitude to our host country. After all, they’re giving us work, somewhere to live and a framework within which we can raise our families (if we have them, that is). Learning their language is the least we can do. Apart from anything else, it’s so much more enriching than staying in one’s own linguistic enclave.

          • Stop writing about integration in this blog… Ms Choi did everithing she schould about learning German. She went every day on her Deutschkurs! It takes time,but THAT she did right!

  14. Thank you for printing the response of Mr. Neubert. Public perception is rarely an accurate metric or indicator of truth. There are two parties that know the truth–Jasmine and the members of the VSO. Close colleagues and friends of Jasmine may be privy to her view of what happened and those in the orchestra are also privy to what happened. Publically, all we really have is the response of the VSO and we have the non-renewal of a fine musician’s contract. Claims of racism and sexism is tabloid and gets folks all riled-up, but unless either Jasmine or members of the orchestra publically come-out and say as much, such inflammatory claims are merely speculation and truly irresponsible. Moreover, such claims may in fact hurt the very person those who make such claims might intend to help. It is time to move-on. Jasmine will find her way in the musical world, her talent is world-class.

  15. I’m sorry, but as an Asian-American (and mostly American trained) woman musician who works in German orchestras, I must say that the accusations of racism are mostly true, while sexism is slowly dying out (although much belatedly). The acts of racism are subtle – after all, this is 2013-racism, if we can call it such, as opposed to blatant pre-WWII-racism. Because it is such a hushed topic (you can imagine, no one wants to put their necks on the line), it’s something that only those immediately affected are aware of.

    A story that I think well illustrates the insidiousness: A number of Asian-American, or even Asian-German friends with Asian (mostly Korean) sounding names have had their resumes rejected for a live audition. The same people, with same resumes, sometimes even for the same orchestras, were accepted when they had changed their names.

    If that’s not racism, I don’t know what is.

    • J – but that’s irrelevant to this case. You are not only talking about different orchestras, you are talking about people being rejected on the basis of their ethnicity as advertised by their nam, which clearly is not the case here as Ms. Choi was awarded a trial.

  16. Let’s not even start with Vienna. A line that a dark-skinned friend of mine received when he approached a Viennese professor: We want Viennese musicians, not Arab-Egyptians.

    This was said in the very recent past; not 1933.

    • Fabio Fabrici says:

      What’s the name of the professor and when was it?

      • Fabio Fabrici says:

        OK, so you don’t know the name and when it happened. I consider this then to be a lie.

        • The fact that J chooses not to reveal that information (and indeed might not even have noticed your polite request that [s]he do so) does not prove, logically, that it’s false.

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            True. But it doesn’t prove that it’s correct either. It’s simply an anonymous accusation without backing it up without credibility.

    • And what’s wrong with having Viennese musicians in a Viennese orchestra? Isn’t it in the interest of the local taxpayers, that the orchestras hire local musicians.

      We don’t need all orchestras on this planet to be a multi-culture mix.

      Or shall we disallow all female, all Israeli-Palestine, all-gay, all-Black, all-Youth orchestras?

      It’s the employer who shall be free to hire whomever they want. You won’t tell me whom I shall hire for my teams, so don’t tell the Viennese orchestra whom they shall have on their team.

      • Right, Beni. Only the US should be required to offer its best paying orchestral positions to foreigners. Every other country should just hire local musicians. Look at the no. of foreign players in US orchs. & get back to us on this. Give me a break.

        • The orchestras can hire whomever they want. If we don’t like whom they hire, we can stop supporting them. I see nothing wrong, if orchestras hire local people, if they find them.

          No organization should be bullied into having to hire people based on gender, nationality (that includes the local nationality!), sexual orientation, relegion or whatever other “unimportant” factors. They shall hire simply and purely based on skills and on if they feel the person is the right fit for the job.

          • …And no one is trying to bully them into hiring based on gender, nationality, or orientation; we’re just saying that in the 21st century, it’s both archaic and morally reprehensible to base the decision *not* to hire someone on those criteria.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Jeffrey E. Salzberg says:
            August 17, 2013 at 5:09 pm

            “…And no one is trying to bully them into hiring based on gender, nationality, or orientation; we’re just saying that in the 21st century, it’s both archaic and morally reprehensible to base the decision *not* to hire someone on those criteria.’

            Agree! But that obviously wasn’t the case here as she got awarded a trial year.

          • …But were the people who awarded her the trial year the same as the people who voted not to renew her employment?

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Jeffrey E. Salzberg says:
            August 19, 2013 at 10:08 am

            “…But were the people who awarded her the trial year the same as the people who voted not to renew her employment?”

            Good question! I don’t know. But – given the broadly generalized nature of many of the negative comments leveled here at the orchestra as a whole, not as a collection of individuals with probably quite diverse views, and at Austrians in general, such nuance probably doesn’t matter anymore at this point. And all – or at least most – of those comments were based on nothing but hearsay and chauvinist stereotypes.

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          The US traditionally is an immigrant nation by definition. Particularly the classical music scene only decades ago was built up exclusively by (mostly European) immigrants. Austria is different. Apples and Oranges.
          “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

  17. That’s such a beautiful piece! Rossini rocks!

  18. If the above video provides any example of what has been going on for the past year I can see why the decision was made AND it has nothing to do with race or sex. The musician does not fit into the ensemble either visually or stylistically. An orchestra soloist does not conduct the conductor in that manner and an entire orchestra should not have to constantly adjust tempo and delay entries to accommodate the whims of a single person. The person I saw performing is not a team player. Great soloists do not always fit into ensemble situations because they are soloists. Simple as that. Finally winning an audition is no guarantee of tenure especially in an ensemble with the standards of the VSO. Anyone who publicly complains about the tenure process, especially with general and unfounded accusations might well find that more than his/her reputation as a player will follow them to the next audition.

  19. The orchestra I play with has the one year period before the contract becomes permanent. This is usual.We do not have a vote on it though. UK orchestras do their ‘trial’ periods before the appointments are made. Elsewhere it is common to appoint someone directly at the end of the auditions. In this situation the one year period becomes much more important. It will become apparent quickly enough if the person appointed from the audition days is the wrong one. Of course, I’m not stating that is the reason Vienna didn’t continue to employ their Principal Flute…

  20. Carlo Mazetti says:

    Managing an orchestra is challenging enough without having to respond to groundless accusations that fit in smugly with Lebrecht’s hostile view on Vienna.

    • Norman is not hostile towards Vienna, and he is not in the minority either about the orchestras. I agree though, Carlo, managing an orchestra must be challenging enough. It is not something I do. I only get employed to sing with them, but obviously you write as an orchestral manager from what you said, so are best placed to know the difficulties in appointing the right people for the sound that the orchestra wishes to make.

  21. Clyde Lindman is absolutely right. The matter is much more complex, but he focus all relevant the points. And that as nothing to do with sex or gender. Actually that little piece from Guglielmo Tell overture is a show case of a very difficult situation for a soloist which is not a team player and reveals perfectly the philosophy that casted aside miss Choi.
    I do not agree with Adrian K when he says: “Please be careful when commenting about the results of Auditions/trials. Such discussion, of itself, could have a detrimental effect on any of the Artists involved, on both sides of the fence.” The musicians are subject to public scrutiny, any knowledgeable and responsible comment is good for them and for the public, musicians are not a secret society trying to conceal their demerits (being a critic at the Portuguese National Radio and newspapers sometimes I fell that they behave like that, I had some funny annoyances in the past even with physical confrontation) , their qualities are evident from the sound they produce…

    • It is even worse this day and age as every note they play and every note sung is scrutinised, disected and pulled apart through replaying and replaying and replaying by people who don’t actually play themselves, but class themselves as ‘experts!’ in those fields. We don’t go to concerts and listen to music in that manner, and CDs are made to take out all the imperfections possible. No wonder more and more singers are cancelling than they used to in the opera houses, as Pappano intimated recently at Covent Garden. They are just getting pulled apart unnecessarily.

    • The above Rossini clip apart from whatever technical considerations that I don’t recognize nor would bother me a lot, doesn’t show much relating musically to the other instruments.
      Funny, pianists are usually considered lone wolves because of their practicing alone for the most part without much chamber music experience unless they seek it out. She plays like a soloist blissfully unaware of everything else happening around her.
      I wonder if anyone remembers the Issac Stern film made while he was in China. There was a part where the students were complaining about having to go to chamber music rehearsals as though this were below prima donnas in the making. I wonder if this attitude is still lurking in some Far Eastern music acadmies.

  22. Jasmine is a star and without the support of fellow artists onstage it would be impossible for her to ‘fit in’. How about supporting our colleagues- each of whom has a different connection with their instrument. Why not dust off the mummy and reconnect with life.

    • The music of the Rossini ouverture video clip is a “ranz de vaches”. The main tune is in the English horn, while the flute comments it in elegant and unobtrusive flourishes. Ideally this should be a delightful duet, but it is certainly not a virtuoso flute concerto, where everybody is expectected to support the soloist. Perhaps your commentary points quite precisely to a situation the orchestra majority might have perceived as problematic.

      • And of course, we are to assume that no one asked Ms. Choi to take a more subdued approach to the duet, and that even if she had been, she could not adapt to such a simple request. From this mindset, a musician like Ms. Choi can only be defined as different and incapable of adaptation. This is what is referred to as essentialism – a form of reductionism that defines the behavior of individuals or specific groups as unalterable. Essentialism is one of the foundations of ethnocentricity and racism. In this case, it is taken to the extreme of claiming a highly experienced orchestra musician, even when asked to take a more accompanimental role.

        • The last sentence should read: In this case, it is taken to the extreme of claiming a highly experienced orchestra musician, even when asked, is incapable of taking a more accompanimental role.

          • Don’t worry, even uncorrected your statement was impressively sesquipedalian ;-)
            What really rubs me the wrong way in this discussion is the stance that even the possibility of professionally and morally acceptable reasons to vote against Ms. Choi’s tenure is dismissed as unthinkable right from the outset, because she is a women of asian descent, and her trial year took place in Vienna.
            I don’t know Ms. Choi at all, and I cannot even begin to guess whether I would have voted with the minority or with the majority, if I were lucky enough to be a member of the Vienna Symphony. What I heard in the posted clip is an impressive flute player who quite obviously cultivates a playing style that is different from the prevalent style in the VSO. Every orchestra player influences the style of his or her orchestra in some ways. This is particularly the case with section leaders, and even a newcomer has the right and perhaps even the duty to try to lead the orchestra in the direction of her or his musical vision. In some cases he or she may have even won the audition just to do that. When and how this influence is attempted is subject to one’s own judgement. Therefore I find it completely irrelevant whether or not someone has asked Ms. Choi to “take a more subdued approach to the duet”. She played it as it seemed right to her, and that is also what she should have done. BTW, the way work is organized in the orchestra world, the only person in the position to make musical requests is the conductor. And I can hardly imagine that this single concert should have played a major role in a decision about a full year’s trial.
            At the end of a trial period an orchestra has to decide whether the applicant is the right person on the job for this orchestra. If there are differences in the stylistic approach, and the orchestra majority doesn’t share this person’s musical tastes and convictions enough to want to evolve in her or his direction, they have the right to say “this doesn’t fit”. And if that is the decision, nobody from the outside should take it as a justification to slander people he doesn’t know as ‘bigots’, or publicly claim the orchestra is acting in a ‘sexist, racist’ way.

          • Actually, your description of how orchestras work is incorrect. When “acceptable” players are brought in, many of the older colleagues, regardless of their position, work to help the new player learn the ropes, fit in, and do the job right. When an “unaccpetable” player enters, she is often left isolated and the principle effort of those opposed to her do little else than catalog presumed short-comings.

            Given the statements that have traditionally been made in Viennese orchestras about Asian players and women, suspicions of discrimination are justifiable. These orchestras unquestionably contain sexist and racist members. The political climate in Vienna adds to the concern. (The xenophobic, rightwing extremist party received 26% of the vote which brings important context to our discussions.)

          • “Suspicions of discrimination” may be justified, but no slander.

          • It is common for racism and sexism to be hidden behind a veil of plausible deniability – or in this case, even implausible deniability. This is also why the musicians in the Philharmonic and Symphoniker have been placed under a gag order. If allowed to speak freely, there are individuals who would quickly let the cat out of the bag. Instead, the “Scheinheiligkeit” continues — as does the postured neutrality of some of the commentators.

          • To me “postured neutrality” is a lot more acceptable than being hypersensitive to other people’s prejudices, even to the point of detecting them where they aren’t, while having no trace of self-reflection regarding one’s own prejudices.

          • It’s interesting that the french word for Scheinheiligkeit is “bigoterie” which is related to bigotry in english. It’s part of a family of words like “Heuchelei” and even “Pharisäertum.” The linguistic relationships suggest how Scheinheiligkeit and bigotry walk hand in hand — and of course, not only in Austria. I so wish we could all let the veils down and that everyone, including the Symphoniker’s members, could just speak candidly. Progress toward solving these problems would quickly be made.

        • Mr Oakmountain says:

          You may well be correct in your analasys, but on a more down-to-earth level, there ARE people of different temperament: In e.g. rock guitar there is a clear distinction if someone is more of a “lead” or “rhythm” player. Often this does not mean superior or inferior chops, but rather the need some people feel to play to the audience (in German “Rampensau”) or to support the band and the song without drawing attention to themselves. Calling this “essentialism” stikes me as a bit disproportionate; it’s simply human strengths and weaknesses.

          Again, I’m not saying you are wrong, but in this whole discussion I am becoming increasingly troubled that people arguing either side are automatically branded either racists or Vienna-bashers. In the absence of evidence, which has been thin in this case, I think we SHOULD state our opinions, but without accusing people who disagree of “isms”.

          As of the question of people being able to change their sound and phrasing: I cannot see how, say, Maurice Andre or Wynton Marsalis (the best solo trumpeters ever, many might argue) could have changed to sound like a Berlin or Vienna orchestral principal, and neither SHOULD they have tried!!! Different talent, different job.

          In the meantime, let us hope that if sexism and racism did play a role, that the increasingly younger members of orchestras worldwide will soon make a difference.

  23. Orchestral Musicain at auditions says:

    I don’t think that it’s very wise to make this story public, although I’m quite sure that biases do play a role in that case. First because you wouldn’t be able to prove and measure to which extent it plays a role, even if all musicians would have to explain their vote. Second because even if this public making would lead to less prejudiced decisions in trials, my logic tells me that it leads to even more prejudiced decisions in auditions on the other hand because the orchestra could fear to give them a trial period (=let them win an audition) cause they fear to get blamed for being racist, if he_she would fail the trial. And that case would obviously be even worse. In a trial it’s seems to be much easier to hide biases with talking bullshit or not explaining anything because it’s just the reason for a trial to prove more than the pure alleged “objective” accomplishment. But in fact (objective NOT subjective to your own pure conscience, which can loose relevance by fear [e.g. of getting blamed, e.g. of getting blamed for being a racist in public]) it’s easier to hide biases in an audition because the accomplishment itself is not public!

    But BTW: To a little extent it’s just natural and human to favor your own group identity – at least a little. Also Asians (and other foreigners of course) stand together! (for this reason it’s usually not allowed to vote or even hear the pre-vote discussions, if theres a family member or partner between the candidates). And (older) female Asians as well as nearly everybody knows, that as a part of minority group you have to be quite clarionly better than candidates of a majority group (e.g. young male German) – from entrance exam at music academy to audition and trial period. You can complain about that – with reason! But nevertheless that doesn’t even need to be always only bad. For example for Antonio Abreu (the founder of Venezuela’s “el sistema”) it was a big motivation for the founding that he didn’t like to see, that the very few Venezuelan orchestras chose only the best foreign candidates and the Venezuelan people mostly don’t had any chance to get a professional. Now there are not only nearly 1000 musicians in the famous national (youth) orchestras touring around the world but also hundred thousands of kids (and former kids) having a better life with music!

    But on the other hand I dont want to downplay racistic, sexistic (or any “-istic”) biases in orchestras or in society in general! I say that although I know my advantage of being a male German at auditions – but I say that because nevertheless I think it’s just unfair. Just some little proves that racism/sexism/ageism does exist in orchestras (and certainly also in VSO not underrepresented):
    1st : A professor, I wanted to work with but refused cause some unforeseeable technical handicaps of mine, told me that I have at least the advantage to be a male German (apart of being also a male German, I think he was only referring and not judging this circumstance, but at least he was an avowed “ageist”: “If you would be 21, I wouldn’t have doubt a second to work with you”)
    2nd: The (foreign) principal of my section in an orchestra, where I had a short-term-contract wanted to bolster me right before an audition for a permanent position with the words: “Never forget: You are a man”
    3rd and maybe most obvious: After an audition (for permanent position where they took nobody and where I’ve been in the last round) one (female) orchestral member came to me and said: “I’m very sorry that your orchestral excerpts didn’t work well, but I just want to say that we(!) are lucky that at long last the best two candidates among all these foreigners for the last round were you two German guys”. She responded to my astounded eyes with the words “ja, is doch so” (something like. “Let’s face it!”)

    Finally: As other commentators explained better and more precisely than I could’ve, it is quite probable that other reasons than the “-istic’s” reasons have been more important for the decision of most people (but in opposite to another comment: in a 47:64(?) decision, it doesnt need to have 64 biased members but only 9 to be crucial)

    PS: Some of my thoughts may’ve been a bit complex. As a non-native-English-speaker I hope to have chosen sufficiently adequate vocabularies from the online-dictionary and a sufficiently understandable grammar!

    • Again, what’s wrong with being happy, that local musicians are among the best candidates? I cut my support to an orchestra when I found, that they hired an average foreigner while keeping a local musician, who always performed to standard, on temp basis.

      It is not in the interest of our communities to make the taxpayers finance the life of musicians, while the orchestra subsidies are used to hire musicians from abroad – who then again will be on our books once they are out of job – like that foreigner I wrote about above. We, the taxpayers, have to more aware of how our money is spent!

      • This is, perhaps, lifting nationalism over meritocracy. In other parts of the world, this is deemed out-modish and tribalistic.

        • Other parts of the world might have other tax payers.
          Moreover, as far as political discussions and decisions are concerned, this IS an issue. Political decision makers rarely have an understanding of classical music. Yet, they make the political decisions.

    • Thank you for this post and its insights. Your English isn’t perfect, but your observations and reports are valuable. And it’s really nice to have Germans participate in the discussion. Ja, es ist doch so. :-)

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        What a patronising comment. OMatA’s English is excellent. I’d like to hear more from him and less from the pompous finger-waggers who habitually hijack certain topics.

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