Jasmine Choi has written to Slipped Disc, clarifying the circumstances of her dismissal from the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and challenging the official version. Her account supports previous reports from within the orchestra of sexist and racist elements in her dismissal. It appears the orchestra was, and remains, seriously divided on her case. Here’s what she tells us; we have highlighted a couple of pertinent points:
It is with great regret that I talk about what happened to myself and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. What a strange ending we had, after having such a fantastic time playing together in the past concert season.
Of course it is very disappointing for me because I had given my best possible contribution to this orchestra in every way in the past season, including all the subscription concerts, several concert tours, the Easter concert, and even played as a soloist in the opening concert of the Bregenz Festival (below) just a couple of weeks ago.
photo (c) VN (Voralberger Nachrichten)
I do admit that many colleagues questioned my trial year, mostly because of the things that I could not change – being a foreigner, asian, female, principal position, studied in the United States, never lived in Europe, never studied in Vienna, etc. Some even told me with sincere concern that I had the complete “wrong” package to become a member of this orchestra. It has been an open discussion among the musicians throughout the whole year, holding some official and unofficial meetings about my position, and I was criticized over micro details such as I was too friendly to everyone that it was calculated, or I should not have made my upcoming Mozart quartets recording with the colleagues in my trial year and so on. Even though in the end I was always told that it is nothing against my playing, nothing I should worry about and just be the self-being and everything would be fine.
However, the result is the result- I had 47 positive votes and 66 negative, and I would like to simply embrace the fact. I was also told that in this orchestra’s entire 113-year history, I am only the second musician to be out after their trial year, following the exit of a concertmaster who happened to be a female Japanese a few years back.
Mr.Johannes Neubert talked about the possibility of playing in the fall when he called on the phone with the news last Saturday, saying that I can take some time to think about this until our meeting. And there has been no further meetings yet, because of the high fever I was going through in the past several days.
Thank you very much.
UPDATE: Some of these assertions are disputed by the orchestra, here.