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:
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
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: