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Vienna principal flute speaks out about her ‘sexist, racist’ dismissal

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.

Best regards,

Jasmine Choi


UPDATE: Some of these assertions are disputed by the orchestra, here.

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  1. This article should be widely shared ,stories like this unfortunately happen all the time , finally something in the papers. Many musicians are not passing a trial year because of silly controversial things normally having nothing to do with the playing,happened to too many people i know .Thank you Jasmine ,for being so honest and having guts to say it how it really is !!!!

    • Being a (male) cellist myself, I had a similar experience in a trial with the Irish Chamber orchestra. There it was mainly because of a new Principal Cellist [redacted] who had me audition again, after I had already done trial periods, pay for the expenses myself, after I had already passed an audition before, and then had me thrown out, with no explanation whatsoever. From my view, the brutal thing about it is that you never really get to know WHY, there is no transparency or honesty about these things because the majority of the musicians in the group are afraid for their own positions and don’t speak out. What people don’t like about musicians on trial has most of the time very little to do with the person on trial, but rather with the people judging them, envy, power games, prejudices (yes, I have heard as well, in Vienna, form orchestra musicians that they dont like women in principal positions!) frustration about motivated young people who havent been broken et etc. I dont know of any better system but this one is definitly very inhuman and I have never found anyone who didnt agree with me on this…

  2. I think the last paragraph but one says it all. What a coincidence that the only other rejection in the 113 years of the orchestra’s history was also non-white. For shame, Vienna Symphony; For shame.

  3. Richard Barker says:

    “Too friendly to everyone” and “should not have made…. recordings with colleagues in my trial year” not to mention “never studied in Vienna”
    Now THAT sounds like the Vienna I know!!!

  4. Rod Ruggiero says:

    Wow! They should be ashamed.

  5. Fabio Fabrici says:

    It’s a horrible situation for her, it hurts tremendously to be voted out of a trial. Her reaction is understandable but nevertheless not wise. Unless she doesn’t have good judicially relevant proof, that “being a foreigner, asian, female, principal position, studied in the United States, never lived in Europe, never studied in Vienna” is the main reason for her dismissal, then she should not make such allegations.
    In her letter is not a single word of that there could be also, maybe, something about herself, even if only a little, that could have contributed to the situation. And that makes her come across as self-righteous.

    It very well cold be that she doesn’t fit in exactly BECAUSE she is not educated in the culture/region, and doesn’t play “in style”. Thankfully we still do have regional differences and qualities in some orchestras like in Vienna, and if she doesn’t fit there, then a musician like her will for sure find another position in a very good orchestra, that can accommodate her musical personality better, e.g. an American orchestra.

    As for her mentioning it is only the second case and both were Asian women, it is not true AFAIK. I believe to know of other cases of European musicians, that didn’t pass trials in VSO.

    We heard her story. Now let’s hear the other side from some orchestra members.

  6. Hmmm… not sure about this. Could just be sour grapes. Certainly hard to believe only two people have failed their trial in the history of the orchestra. In the rest of the orchestral world, I’d say 40-50% fail their trials.
    She could be a great player whose playing style isn’t and/or personality isn’t a good fit for the orchestra – that also happens regularly. Plenty of good players don’t get the gig in the end.

    • It’s not true what she said!!! She just amberassed herself… In Vienna Symphonie Orchester musician fail their trials like in many other….Huh

  7. Dear Mr Lebrecht

    We cannot say for sure how many musicians have not passed their trial years in the course of the 113 years of the orchestra’s history. However, what we can say is that in the past 2 decades or so there were many more musicians who did not pass their trial years, for instance 3 concertmasters (one male/Austrian, one female/Austrian, one female/Japanese), 1 principal viola (male/Austrian), 1 principal double-bass (male German), one principal oboe (male/Austrian), one principal bassoon (male/Austrian), one harp (female/Hungarian). These are examples of players on principal positions, only. A list including tutti or second positions would be longer (including male and female players, the majority Austrians).

    Please note, too, that Jasmine Choi was not “fired”. As in the case of all other employments, we advertised the position internationally, auditioned and hired the best candidate with a one-year contract. If there is no positive voting from the orchestra, the contract expires automatically at the end of the trial year. The voting is always anonymous and supervised both by the musicians committee and the management, in order to make sure, that everything is correct. This is common procedure in almost all orchestras we know.

    With best wishes
    Johannes Neubert
    Managing Director
    Wiener Symphoniker
    (Vienna Symphony)

    • The Dutch Guy says:

      “auditioned and hired the best candidate with a one-year contract. If there is no positive voting from the orchestra, the contract expires automatically at the end of the trial year.”

      Now I am confused with this phrase, she won an audition for a one year contract, and then she got kicked out after the end of a 1 year contract but that year contract was a 1 year trial ? You do trials of 1 year for 1 year contracts? Makes no sense at all, something is clearly fishy…

      • You mis-understand. The one-year contract IS the trial year.

      • The one-year contract is the probationary year. That is standard procedure. One must pass probation in order to be granted tenure, and she did not. This is not at all unusual.

        • Don Stein says:

          That is what they tell people who had a great audition but actually suck. Jasmine DESTROYS all the flutists in that country, PERIOD. The problem is that the orchestra members couldn’t stomach it.

          How DARE these Nazis attempt to destroy a great artist just because of her race, gender, educational background, etc. Boycott Austria! I will never watch another tacky New Year’s Concert or drink another Goesser again, bunch of backwoods racists!

    • Don Stein says:

      I laugh when I see such “international” advertisements.

      Having lived in Vienna, I know first-hand about the racism and extreme nationalism that plagues Austria. You have like 10 million Asians in your conservatories who will never amount to anything substantial domestically because of your “policies.” One of the biggest scams going.

      Make money without any “negative” cultural impact? NICE!

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        Except that until this year, studying in Austria was practically free for foreigners. And even now that they are going to tentatively introduce tuition fees, they are ridiculously low for the quality of the education the students get.
        So that’s not a “scam” at all. In fact, for many years, the Austrian state gave away a great music education to “like millions of Asians”.
        Having lived in Austria but probably never having learned enough of the local language to put together more than two simple sentences, you seem to know next to nothing about that country’s cultural life.

    • Don Stein says:

      If Jasmine Choi was Austrian, you would put her face on the national flag. I know how you “small country” people operate.

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        One doesn’t actually have to be from a “small country” to have a “small country mindset” with all the prejudices and stereotypes that usually come with that. You seem to be a good example for that.

  8. She has the right to be angered, but I feel this type of statement is the wrong way to go about it. It’s clear from the statement that she has no proof of why she was dismissed, so she’s pointing at her gender and ethnicity. She’s playing the victim card at the expense of the orchestra, and it makes her look pathetic. She’s already been let go, so might as well leave with dignity.

    I never heard of Ms. Choi until this article, but from my observations (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter) she seems to be a musician who is more focused on being a soloist rather than an orchestra member. Any musician who put his/her best interest first than the orchestra won’t last very long, let alone the Wiener Symphoniker.

    • Hyo Sang Lee says:

      What do you mean “. . . more focused on being a soloist rather than an orchestra member”? She’s been associate principal of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

      • Don Stein says:

        Yes, she has always been a hardcore orchestra player. Just ignore all these comments because it has NOTHING to do with Jasmine at all.

    • Don Stein says:

      You have obviously never spent any time in Austria or know about the inner workings of their corrupt music world.

  9. Around the world I know about many only-women orchestras, where only women are accepted, I don’t know a single only-men orchestra. Why nobody complains about that? Why so much “sexist” talk only on one direction?. If the orchestra has a way of selecting candidates (by majority of votes of the musicians of the orchestra) that’s their way of selection, who are we to judge whether their criteria is right or wrong? This orchestra is one of the best in the world, I’m sure that their musicians want to make sure it keeps being one of the best, I don’t believe that 66 musicians are sexist and racist and vote against a colleague just for those reasons. Probably some are racist and sexist, the same way as probably at times one gets a job because of good looks or other irrelevant (under my criteria) factors. How many women don’t get a job because of being a women? How many women get a job because of being a women? The same questions apply to men, although probably in both cases with a result of a lower number. It’s difficult to know what really happens in a job competition. Sometimes it’s an unfair result (under our own criteria, which we usually think is the right one). But, it is too easy to blame it immediately on sexism and racism…

    • To Dan: my comment concerns only one part of yours. The “all-women” orchestras sprang to life as a response to the fact that most better orchestras around the world used to be “men only” for a long, long time. It looks like you may be a younger person, from the generation that have not seen this being the case. The situation has been changing it the last 20 or so years, it is true. By now, there isn’t an all male orchestra in the world as the world is changing. The last example of the all-male orchestra that was formed relatively recently was The Moscow Virtuosi chamber orchestra (formed in 1980). The Moscow Virtuosi did not accept women for about 20 years; later they, too, changed their policy.

      • Dan Totan says:

        My mom played as violist in a large symphony orchestra for almost 40 years, since the early 70s. In her orchestra as in all orchestras that I’ve witnessed since early childhood there were many women. She battled sexism and ethnic discrimination during her entire career… however, she never complained outside our household and she held her own professionally in front of all the abuses she was forced to go through.

        I am not sure that what you are saying about the all-women orchestras is true (at least in my opinion). Many times all-women orchestras, quartets, and all kind of groups… are just a gimmick to sell tickets. The members of an orchestra should be chosen by their value and capacity to adapt, not their sex, ethnicity, or personality.

        I think what happened with Miss Choi (without knowing too much about this issue) is that she didn’t adapt to a closed up and rigid orchestra which has a very defined way of doing and seeing things, it works for them and not for everybody…

        The way she went about it is not going to do her any favors in the future, in the end it was a large part of the orchestra who voted not to continue collaborating with her. She is obviously a great musician and she should be looking towards the future not towards the group of people that couldn’t appreciate, utilize, and recognize her talents.

        • Don Stein says:

          Adapt = DNA replacement

          • Love you ,whoever you are, Don Stein! Great comments, every one!

          • It is always useful to inform oneself before being a smart-ass. You could say that you have to adapt to your surroundings… :))) Cheers

            a·dapt (-dpt)
            v. a·dapt·ed, a·dapt·ing, a·dapts

            To make suitable to or fit for a specific use or situation.

            To become adapted: a species that has adapted well to winter climes.


            [Middle English adapten, from Latin adaptre : ad-, ad- + aptre, to fit (from aptus, fitting; see apt).]


            a·dapted·ness n.

            Synonyms: adapt, accommodate, adjust, conform, fit1, reconcile
            These verbs mean to make suitable to or consistent with a particular situation or use: adapted themselves to city life; can’t accommodate myself to the new requirements; adjusting their behavior to the rules; conforming her life to accord with her moral principles; fitting the punishment to the crime; couldn’t reconcile his reassuring words with his hostile actions.
            Antonym: unfit

            The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

            adapt [əˈdæpt]
            1. (often foll by to) to adjust (someone or something, esp oneself) to different conditions, a new environment, etc.

            2. (tr) to fit, change, or modify to suit a new or different purpose to adapt a play for use in schools
            [from Latin adaptāre, from ad- to + aptāre to fit, from aptus apt]

            adaptable adj

            adaptability , adaptableness n

            adaptive adj

            Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

            a•dapt (əˈdæpt)

            1. to make suitable to requirements or conditions; adjust or modify fittingly.
            2. to adjust oneself to different conditions, environment, etc.

            [1605–15; < Latin adaptāre to fit, adjust. See ad-, apt]

            a•dapt′ed•ness, n.

            syn: See adjust.

            Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

            Thesaurus Legend: Synonyms Related Words Antonyms

            Verb 1. adapt – make fit for, or change to suit a new purposeadapt – make fit for, or change to suit a new purpose; "Adapt our native cuisine to the available food resources of the new country"

            vary, alter, change – become different in some particular way, without permanently losing one's or its former characteristics or essence; "her mood changes in accordance with the weather"; "The supermarket's selection of vegetables varies according to the season"

            adjust – make correspondent or conformable; "Adjust your eyes to the darkness"

            gear, pitch – set the level or character of; "She pitched her speech to the teenagers in the audience"

            fit – insert or adjust several objects or people; "Can you fit the toy into the box?"; "This man can't fit himself into our work environment"

            anglicise, anglicize – make English in appearance; "She anglicised her name after moving from Paris to London"

            shoehorn – fit for a specific purpose even when not well suited

            tailor, orient – adjust to a specific need or market; "a magazine oriented towards young people"; "tailor your needs to your surroundings"

            domesticate, tame – make fit for cultivation, domestic life, and service to humans; "The horse was domesticated a long time ago"; "The wolf was tamed and evolved into the house dog"

            domesticate, tame, cultivate, naturalise, naturalize – adapt (a wild plant or unclaimed land) to the environment; "domesticate oats"; "tame the soil"

            Christianize – adapt in the name of Christianity; "some people want to Christianize ancient pagan sites"

            naturalise, naturalize – adopt to another place; "The stories had become naturalized into an American setting"

            electrify, wire – equip for use with electricity; "electrify an appliance"

            transcribe – rewrite or arrange a piece of music for an instrument or medium other than that originally intended

            2. adapt – adapt or conform oneself to new or different conditionsadapt – adapt or conform oneself to new or different conditions; "We must adjust to the bad economic situation"
            conform, adjust

            change – undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature; "She changed completely as she grew older"; "The weather changed last night"

            readjust, readapt – adjust anew; "After moving back to America, he had to readjust"

            readapt – adapt anew; "He readapted himself"

            assimilate – become similar to one's environment; "Immigrants often want to assimilate quickly"

            focalise, focalize, focus – become focussed or come into focus; "The light focused"

            acclimate, acclimatise, acclimatize – get used to a certain climate; "They never acclimatized in Egypt"

            match – be equal or harmonize; "The two pieces match"

            obey – be obedient to

            square – cause to match, as of ideas or acts

            Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.

            1. adjust, change, match, alter, modify, accommodate, comply, conform, reconcile, harmonize, familiarize, habituate, acclimatize Things will be different and we will have to adapt.

            2. convert, change, prepare, fit, fashion, make, shape, suit, qualify, transform, alter, modify, tailor, remodel, tweak (informal), metamorphose, customize Shelves were built to adapt the library for use as an office.

            Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


            Select a language:





            adapt (əˈdӕpt) verb
            to change or alter (so as to fit a different situation etc). She always adapted easily to new circumstances; He has adapted the play for television.
            ˌadapˈtation (ӕ-) noun

            aˈdaptable adjective
            willing or able to change to fit in with different circumstances. Children are usually very adaptable.
            aˌdaptaˈbility noun

            aˈdaptor noun
            a device which enables an electrical plug of one type to be used in a socket of another type, or several plugs to be used in the same socket at the same time.

            Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.

      • Not to be argumentative, but you just stated that there are no all-male orchestras any more. There are, however female-only orchestras, New Century Chamber Orchestra being one of them. If all-male orchestras were considered sexist, how is it that all-female orchestras are not? Reaction to historical realities, aside, it’s still sexist to have an all-male OR all-female orchestra. Such an orchestra is sexist by definition.

  10. I know Johannes Neubert from his previous position at the Tonkünstler-Orchester (perhaps he might remember me?) and I know him as a human being and manager of great vision and integrity who would not knowingly allow the sort of bias of which the VSO is accused here. in an orchestra, personalities are just as important as playing the notes and some people just don’t fit. A trial is just what it says – a TRIAL – and this comes with no guarantees of continued employment. On the other hand, of course, the city of Vienna does not exactly have the most shining of examples in not being biased against certain members of society. I have seen ‘cards’ played inappropriately before on similar threads and so I’m sitting firmly on the fence on this one. While I agree that the VSO has to be as squeaky clean as possible in this regard, one can never legislate against facts being misrepresented. This doesn’t mean, however, that organisations should be unfairly biased towards unsuitable people (and I’m sitting on the proverbial fence here, not saying that Miss Choi IS unsuitable) at the expense of the artistic well-being of the orchestra. Organisations must make the best decisions for the organisations based on clearly-stated criteria, but NOT pander to any sniff of ‘PC’-ness. This is in no-one’s interests, long term.

  11. While there is a subtle game of keeping your hesd down and avoiding controversy as a newbie in many professions, the paradox is that at the level in question candidates will have fully-fledged musical and social personae. I imagine whoever hiredJasmine did so because they could readily see her sound and personality fitting the gig. Maybe these one year contracts are away of turning round the oil tanker of ultra-conservatist parochialism, but they should be accompanied by some advice as to how to comport onesself. in the micro-climate, and an induction (pretty standard in HR in the UK). In England we once had finishing schools and Lucie Clayton for women, offering what now would seem arcane and sexist advice; men I guess had theconvention of being called aside for a pep talk. The lack of the latter has led Stamn Collymore to set up a support group for youngcareersoccer players, while ex SA pres De Clerk runs one for senior statesmen bewildered by game changes and cultural nuances.
    The nub of this seems to be that someone like Jasmine is naturally gregarious and enterprising; this does not necessarily equate with ‘…Being a soloist’ but it does suggesr someone geared to surviving in the modern cultural world. Orchestral outreach programmes that funding bodies require demand these vary qualities. I wonder if the passive stereotype of the Geisha wasn’t lingering in the subconscious in the hiring decision.?

  12. Maxine Kwok-Adams says:

    Being an ethnic minority in my orchestra I have read the articles and comments with interest. I do feel for Ms. Choi, in that it cannot be easy for anyone to be in a job for a year – becoming part of an organisation, making a life and friends only to be told you didn’t get the support of the orchestra. Unfortunately many fantastic players all over the world do fall by the wayside after a “trial/probation” period. I know this firsthand from my 12 years in the LSO and seeing so many super players who are, of course, good enough to be in the job, but end up not getting it. We can cite many reasons from the players being racist, thinking you are the wrong sex, discouraging you from wanting a family, for being too attractive/not attractive enough..

    Seeing as she won her place on trial playing to the same people, her individual playing was obviously without question but these trial periods are very much to do with your “fit” within an orchestra, both playing-wise and socially. I don’t think we can accuse the whole orchestra of being racist as there are many nationalities represented. Being a humble string tutti player I am sometimes privy to conversations I don’t understand about European/American wind sounds.. perhaps some people felt she was unable to adapt to the sounds that Vienna has spent many decades honing?

    It is true, you often can’t win – u can be deemed too friendly or in reverse, standoffish. The only thing to do is to be yourself and if the other players can’t handle that, then you are not in the right place anyway. I am sure Ms. Choi will land on her feet and I expect the experience will have given her many positives along with the obvious negatives. I am lucky having not been a victim of any racism (that I know of!) at work, perhaps because London is a somewhat more cosmopolitan city than Vienna. Hopefully she can move on from this, as even with the publicity, I am sure she won’t want to be known for this “war” over her playing ability.

  13. Hello,

    there is a system in Germany and Austria that goes like this after been chosen in the audition for the position: you will have a year of trial with the orchestra and if the way you play (eventhough you were favorited in the audition) suites the orchestra, in meaning of sound, style, flexibility (on technical stuffs) then they will confirm you, otherwise they will do another audition. This is the normal way of doing it in these countries. It happens very often that someone chosen in the audition after a while doesnt suit/satisfy the orchestra needs…but that does not mean the player is unable to play great! As a musician we have to understand that eventhough they choose us in an audition there is a period where will be decided whether your playing matches with the orchestra or not…is not personal and does not have to do anything where you are coming from or which gender you have, since that was not a problem for choosing you in the audition.

    • Absolutely correct. It takes a year to see if the new player fits with the orchestra. Only so much can be learned from an audition, and that is why the probationary year is so important. This is especially important with a wind player, and a principal wind player at that. The winds must think together, breathe together, be able to “read” one another, be of one mind and function almost as a single person. It is a very subjective thing to achieve, entering into an established section and fitting in where they will accept you. It either works or it doesn’t. In her case, it didn’t.

    • Don Stein says:

      The problem is that she is too good for the orchestra. Her sound blends with the woodwind section quite beautifully.

      I’m not even a fan of hers, but I think a spotlight should be placed on this utter BS.

      • If you’re not a fan, why are you commenting and checking back every day and writing stuff like “she plays so beautiful, she’s too good for the orchestra.” There’s some stalker-ish undertones to your posts, and I suggest you tone it down.

        Also, since you think she is so good, she should find bigger and better opportunities than the VSO, no?

      • She doesn’t fit the section playing… Look at the William Tell Video on her Youtube Channel! I don’t say she plays bad, but not suitable… She shouldn’t say all this nasty things about the Orchester,and ruin their image in public- after all, thay gave her an great opportunity and many people(like me) would NEVER know about her without this engagement in VSO.

  14. PK Miller says:

    Who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s on first, what’s on second…. Well, figuring out the old Abbott & Costello routine is easier. Ms. Choi is obviously hurting. It’s NEVER “fun,” or in any way a pleasant experience to be terminated from ANY job. But perhaps, Ms. Choi simply didn’t fit in. Perhaps she was too individualistic. Except when directed in the music to come forward, play a solo line, etc., every instrument in the orchestra must blend. Just as, in a chorus/choir everyone must sound as one–listen to the Boston Symphony Chorus under the estimable John Oliver. They sound as one voice. No one would want my stentorian tenor in a choir! Perhaps Ms. Choi just didn’t “blend.” There are a thousand reasons why Ms. Choi didn’t survive her one year trial period. Perhaps they felt she just wasn’t working out. We should not be so quick to judge.

    And I too take issue w/the word “discarded.” It sounds like she was tossed in a dumpster w/the trash! These are not easy situations for ANYONE. There’s much invested by BOTH parties. If Ms. Choi just didn’t fit in regardless of her gender, ethnicity or if she’s a partridge in a bloody pear tree, then termination may be the best course of action. It seems like a tempest in a teapot. Hundreds of musicians are terminated by their orchestras etc., all the time & it’s no biggie. If you don’t meet their standards, perhaps too individualistic, not a “good fit,” then often, it’s better to say “adios, au revoir, auf wiedersehen, goodbye!” (Lawrence Welk’s signature sign off). And there are not always easy ways to do this, some people are more comfortable than others. I once was terminated from a high school summer job at a grocery store because I didn’t “fit in.” I didn’t know till I didn’t see my name on the schedule and the Assistant Manager checked, found a note that says, (I) was terminated. Not a good fit for our store.” Tacky as hell. I was angry, hurt, humiliated… I got over it. So will Ms. Choi.

    • If it was the musicians that voted, and this was not simply a management decision, then my impression is that this is the way things ought to be done. Ask the musicians. They usually know best. If not, this orchestra has the wrong musicians.

  15. As to whether Ms Choi has presented any evidence of unlawful discrimination: giving obviously pretextual excuses, such as “too friendly” or “shouldn’t have recorded with colleagues”, is indeed legally competent evidence that the real motive was discriminatory. One can imagine how it would have been used against her, had she been thought “unfriendly” or recorded with musicians from outside the Symphony.

  16. Abigail Clifford says:

    I am only the second musician to be out after their trial year–
    what planet is she on- this is not true!

    • To be fair, she said this is what she was TOLD — she doesn’t say it is a fact.

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        Yes, she “was told”, just like there are “strong rumors” about the “racist and sexist” reasons for her rejection – can you see a pattern there? Dropping little bits and pieces of nasty rumors here and there and letting them do their work…
        It’s a really bizarre thing for anybody who knows anything about how orchestras in general work to say – all the more so since she is in that profession yourself. You don’t have to know anything about the history of this particular orchestra to at least suspect that that is total nonsense.
        And the fact that she apparently doesn’t know anything about the history of the orchestra she played in and that she needed to be “told” that confirms what some here have said – that she made no real efforts to fit in the group, that she didn’t even learn the language. I have heard of many principal positions in leading orchestras sometimes taking years and trying out several candidates to fill – I have never heard of anyone making such a fuss about failing his or her trial period, for whatever reasons.

  17. Vienna’s classical musical culture has a documented history of being very retrograde about the acceptance of women musicians. It would be naive to assume that that is all in the past now.

  18. “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.”
    - George Bernard Shaw

    The Viennese are STRANGE!

    I spent 18 months in Vienna in 2001-2003, and got to know the Institutions of the Vienna Phil (Wiener Philharmoniker) and the Vienna Symphony (Wiener Symphoniker) veyr well, on both personal and professional levels: the Complaint that the Viennese make, consistently, against Americans, is similar to the one that Mexicans, Canadians, all other Europeans and Asians all make about us: we are SUPERFICIAL. We say things we don’t mean. We greet each other and we greet VIP’s in Europe without thinking twice about the fact that we may have just said “Hey, what’s up, dude” to the Prince of Denmark or the cousin of the Queen of the Austrian Empire. That can be VERY offensive to the Viennese, to say the least: it shows little Insight or Understanding.

    Now as a 37-year-old, i understand how important Respect is, especially in the Arts, where there is precious little Cash going around.

    I suggest to the Asian-American flutist to hang out in Vienna for a while and take a German Class. I did that when I was 26 for 18 months in Vienna, when I was expecting to be playing or working with the Vienna Phil and or Vienna Symph. It turned out to be the right thing to do. It’s worth it in the long run. Maybe she could marry in to the Vienna Phil or Vienna Symphony, both Houses of Mirrors in their own rights. Then she will have a Chance to see what it was — if anything – she did wrong. The Reality is that she probably did Nothing wrong, but rather did everything right — and thus got her Year with the Stars.

    One last piece of Wisdom to the Wise: would an American orchestra ever hire someone who couldn’t read, speak, write or hear English? No, of course not, they might cause a Car-wreck on the Freeway misreading the Exit signs, or they might NOT get the joke of the day during rehearsal break, or they might not mix well at the cocktail party with the Iraqi Ambassador!!! So why should or would a European band hire an artist who can’t read/write/speak/hear, essentially???

    There’s definitely a Lesson to be learned: in Diplomacy, in Community, in the harsh reality of the parforming Arts World.

    • Schöne Müllerin says:

      Thank you, you are just right. For an Austrian, it is normal to speak and understand english – everybody under 50 had to learn it for some years in school. I personally also know French and Italian. If a musician wants to work in another country, she/he should know the language, it’s easier for everybody.

      Viennese are proud of their history and music tradition . So do in Vienna as the Viennese, they are mostly polite and friendly. And just do not expect that everyone on the planet considers Americans way of life to be the best.

      Every employer has the right to finish a contract and after a trial year he can see if things go smoothly or not.
      The artist also could say bye.
      With love from western Austria.

      • Don Stein says:

        If you think Viennese are “mostly polite and friendly,” western Austria must be in really bad shape.

    • Kristen Kean says:

      “Maybe she could marry in to the Vienna Phil or Vienna Symphony, both Houses of Mirrors in their own rights.”

      While I can appreciate the idea that Vienna is culturally complex, the suggestion that “maybe she could marry into the Vienna Phil” certainly comes across as sexist.

    • If somebodydoesn’t bother to learn the local language in the 1st year after their arrival, they don’t seem to be interested in being there for the long run. Hence, a trial contract might not be renewed solely for that reason alone. As an orchestra I wouldn’t bother extending contract to people who don’t want to learn the language the audience speaks.

      • You might have had a hard time accepting Ozawa in Boston, then. He reportedly never bothered to learn English too well when he was Music Director there.

    • Fan of Vienna says:

      For your information: I knew Miss Choi was taking “THE” local language daily — 3 hours class per day.

      • Good for her. There are enough other reasons why I have an inkling her contract wasn’t renewed. One of them is shown by her going public.

  19. The assertions by Ms. Choi and several other members of the Wiener Symphoniker that she faced racial and gender discrimination in the orchestra are plausible if put in the context of both historical and recent events. Her case is very similar to those of Yasuhito Sugiyama who performed with the Vienna Philharmonic for one year. See:


    And many women musicians have faced similar treatment. I have documented two examples which you can read about here:

    In his autobiography, Otto Strasser, a former Chairman of the Vienna Philharmonic, described the problems blind auditions cause:

    “I hold it for incorrect that today the applicants play behind a screen; an arrangement that was brought in after the Second World War in order to assure objective judgments. I continuously fought against it, especially after I became Chairman of the Philharmonic, because I am convinced that to the artist also belongs the person, that one must not only hear, but also see, in order to judge him in his entire personality. [...] Even a grotesque situation that played itself out after my retirement, was not able to change the situation. An applicant qualified himself as the best, and as the screen was raised, there stood a Japanese before the stunned jury. He was, however, not engaged, because his face did not fit with the ‘Pizzicato-Polka’ of the New Year’s Concert.”[1]

    The Viennese orchestras have long felt “that to the artist also belongs the person”, and that the individual’s accomplishment, and -marketability-, are determined by race and gender. Traditionally, these orchestras have felt that people who are visibly of other races would destroy their image of Austrian authenticity.

    Dieter Flury, the Philharmonic’s solo-flutist, expressed a similar view in an interview with the West German State Radio:

    “From the beginning we have spoken of the special Viennese qualities, of the way music is made here. The way we make music here is not only a technical ability, but also something that has a lot to do with the soul. The soul does not let itself be separated from the cultural roots that we have here in central Europe. And it also doesn’t allow itself to be separated from gender. So if one thinks that the world should function by quota regulations, then it is naturally irritating that we are a group of white skinned male musicians, that perform exclusively the music of white skinned male composers. It is a racist and sexist irritation. I believe one must put it that way. If one establishes superficial egalitarianism, one will lose something very significant. Therefore, I am convinced that it is worthwhile to accept this racist and sexist irritation, because something produced by a superficial understanding of human rights would not have the same standards.”[2]

    The belief that racial minorities would damage the image of Viennese orchestras as authentic representatives of Austrian culture is shared by many musicians, and has been documented by Dr. Elena Ostleitner, an emeritus Professor at Vienna’s University of Music. She recorded the following statement by an Asian woman:

    “I auditioned for an orchestra, and I led in the point tabulations as long as I played behind a screen. Due to my name it was not apparent that I am an Asian. But when the screen was removed [for the final round], I was rejected without comment. Friends in the orchestra confirmed my assumption. They do not take foreigners, and if they do, then only those in which [foreign appearance] is not visible.”[3]

    Another Viennese sociologist, Prof. Roland Girtler, of the University of Vienna, has made similar observations:

    “What I have noticed that is interesting, is that the Vienna Philharmonic would also never take a Japanese or such. If they took one, this also would somehow by appearances put in question the noble character of Viennese culture. But this is not racist!”[4]

    It is not merely musical performance, but also the racial physiognomy of Asians that is the critical issue–though Girtler does not view this as racist. Similar beliefs were reported in a radio broadcast of the Austria National Broadcasting Corporation. A public school teacher who had taken his class to a rehearsal of the Vienna Philharmonic reported that a girl in the class asked why only men were in the orchestra. Werner Resel, the orchestra’s chairman at the time, answered that the “Vienna Philharmonic is an orchestra of white men playing music by white men for white people”.[5]

    This policy is problematic, since almost half of the students at the Wiener Musik Hochschule are foreigners, and from a quarter to a third of them are Asian. Many of them marry Austrians and become permanent residents of the country, and yet these Asian musicians are often discriminated against in orchestra auditions and strongly underrepresented among their membership.

    It is perhaps worth noting that from a larger historical perspective, the ideology that a particular musical expression or style is inseparable from the central European soul, the People, or the Nation, eventually had catastrophic effects for European culture. It manifested itself in the concepts of “Ahnenerbe” (the belief that culture is genetically inherited), and the Blut und Boden ideologies advocating the racial superiority of “The People” in the Third Reich.

    An obvious implication of these ideologies is that the most authentic performance of western classical music can only be created by the ethnic group or nation of the composer. This was advocated by the Kampfbund der deutsche Kuenstler (Fighting Group for German Artists) during the Third Reich:

    “Since we do not value, that a watered down internationalism is identified with German artistic genius, we must require, that in the future German art is represented abroad only by German artists, that carry in their person and their attitude of mind the seal of the purest Germaness.”[6]

    Excessive nationalism and ethnocentricity are often constellated with sexism, and is one more aspect of the chauvinistic mind set and its invidious attachment to groups. It would be mistaken, of course, to think that these traditions, which are deeply embedded in Germanic cultural traditions, suddenly vanished in recent years. Asians musicians and women still face considerable problems in the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Wiener Symphoniker.

    [1] Otto Strasser, _Und dafuer wird man noch bezahlt: Mein Leben mit den
    Wiener Phiharmonikern_ (Wien: Paul Neff Verlag, 1974)
    [2] “Musikalische Misogynie,” broadcast by the West German State Radio,
    February 13, 1996.
    [3] Elena Ostleitner, _Liebe, Lust, Last und Lied_ (Wien, Bundesministerium
    fuer Unterricht und Kunst, 1995) p. 6.
    [4] Roland Girtler, “Mitgliedsaufnahme in den Noblen Bund der Wiener Philharmonicer Als Mannbarkeitsritual”, Sociologia Internationalis (Beiheft 1, Berlin 1992).
    [5] “Von Tag zu Tag”, broadcast by Austrian National Radio and Television,
    December 11, 1996, 4:05-4:45pm.
    [6] “Deutsches Operngastspiel in Suedamerika”, Deutsche Buehnenkorrespondenz, II/31, October 1933, pg. 4.

    • I would like to add that any orchestral administrator or musician working in Vienna would be very aware of the history and traditions I document above, and that strong vestiges of these beliefs continue. When they address issues such as those raised by Ms. Choi’s dismissal while acting as if these traditions do not exist, they are displaying intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy. Sadly, this is a norm in Austria.

      • “dishonesty and hypocrisy … the norm in Austria”
        Wow – you do enjoy trading in stereoptypes, don’t you Mister Osborne?

        But be happy – as long as Austrians are that bad you still have an audience. Without what you regard as being bad in/deficient about Vienna your reader base would shrink dramatically.

        • To belabor the obvious, my comment is not a generalization but very specifically about orchestra administrators and musicians who deny the w ell documented racist legacy of the orchestras in question.

    • Love this writeup. It’s embarrassing that, in 2013, these institutions are still hiding their sexism and racism behind the “authenticity” of their aesthetics. The music belongs to the world now. Ms. Choi is one of the most talented and humble artists that I’ve ever had the opportunity to hear, and her dismissal is shameful.

      • As to the sexism and racism charge: If the orchestra was truly sexist and racist, why would they offer her a contract, even a probationary one, in the first place? Even if the entire audition was behind a screen and they blindly chose the winner, her resume would certainly have been rejected if the sexism and racism charges were true, and she would not have been granted an audition at all. Food for thought.

        • Minorities and women sometimes play so much better than the competition that they win the votes to enter. This happens because most orchestra members are not sexist. It is only after being hired that the worst intrigues start. It only takes a small and zealous group of campaigning bigots to turn the tide against someone in the trial year and drive a them out of an orchestra. In short, they can’t control the auditions, but they can make life hell for their victims once they are in their trial year.

          • You claimed: “It only takes a small and zealous group of campaigning bigots to turn the tide against someone in the trial year and drive a them out of an orchestra.”

            Even if something similar would happen in an orchestra (in fact, it didn’t in this case!) – it would not be specific for female candidates. Orchestras suffer the same social problems as does every company. Some of the workers like a newcomer, some of them don’t, some of them support a newcomer, some of them intrigue, etc. This is not at all specific about women.

            In fact, the VSO has one of the strongest labour unions and staff associations of orchestras in Austria. In this specific case, nobody made hell for the candidate in her trial year. As for what really happens here, it is a public campaign against the VSO. Based on speculation and on “rumors”.
            So I strongly suggest to you to abandon your unqualified public accusations against VSO!

            What we may observe in this case, however, seems to be, that a “zealous” group of “campaigning bigot” journalists turn the tide against a whole orchestra and make life hell for their victim, the VSO.

          • These campaigns can happen to anyone, but in orchestras like the Philharmonic and Symphoniker, which have the lowest and second lowest ratios of women in the world, the chances of women being viewed as outsiders and intruders is greatly increased.

            It is these low ratios that have damaged these orchestras reputations, not biased journalists. The gag order placed on musicians in the orchestra only reinforces the suspicions and contempt people feel for these forms of sexism. Open dialog and debate on the part of the orchestra’s members would greatly improve the situation and the orchestra’s reputation. In fact, it is the lack of dialog both internally and externally about sexism that has caused these ossified attitudes.

    • [1] 1974
      [2] 1996
      [3] 1995
      [4] 1992
      [5] 1996
      [6] 1933

      I thought you said, you had recent examples? Your last ones are from 17 years ago, one even 80 years ago.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      william osborne says:
      August 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      “The assertions by Ms. Choi and several other members of the Wiener Symphoniker that she faced racial and gender discrimination in the orchestra are plausible if put in the context of both historical and recent events.”

      Yes, a “historical” context like “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”. That statement reduces her credibility to near zero.

      The flutist Yasuko Fuchs-Imanaga, the (Japanese) wife of Wenzel Fuchs (principal clarinet with the Berliner Philharmoniker) had a very active career going on in Vienna, playing in a number of orchestras, among others as principal with the Volksoper and Wiener Kammerphilharmonie, and held a professorship at the Konservatorium before she moved to Berlin with her husband.

      • Yes, after the exposes of the 90s and the troubles they caused, these orchestras became very cagey and silent. The members of the Philharmonic, for example, are expressly forbidden to speak to the press about the orchestra’s employment practices. This does not in any way mean, of course, that the chauvinism of some of the members has changed. For recent documentation of the orchestra’s sexism in 2007 see:

        • They are not allowed to discuss this with the press, because it is a company internal process. If the orchestra would want to dicuss internal votes in public, they’d broadcast this process live.

          I wouldn’t publicly discuss dismissals, contract extentions and so on in public. It is not of public interest of course, as just very few bother to watch my emplyees at work. But even in an orchestra or sports club it is and shall not be of much interest to the public if a trial contract is not renewed.

      • Don Stein says:

        She didn’t have any high-profile gigs. That is as far as an Asian is allowed to go in Austria.

    • Mr. Osborne, thank you for your well-researched and thoughtful comment!

    • Do you know the details of this case? Are you saying they Symphoniker DID discriminate? Seems like you are painting with a pretty broad brush here…

    • Maureen Lister says:

      I very much appreciated this article, thanks.

    • James Kent says:

      Great post! Brilliantly written.

    • Thank you for sharing these great passages.
      However, they point to the very limits of multiculturalism, the aspect of globalization that is making all the orchestras sound more of less the same. It is wonderful that the Austrians cherish their culture that was passed to them through generations of traditional practice. This authenticity may be the very heart and soul of what drives classical music. Liberals insist that the traditions of indigenous Amazonians or Inuit should be preserved, why don’t we afford the same respect to Europeans ? So, we should respect their wishes as their culture belongs to them and not us. Their orchestras belong to them first and as outsiders come in to study, they can decide who might be invited in to their family. It’s no secret who has historically won auditions in these ensembles. Applicants should take note. I hope that I don’t see the Viennese music style absorbed in to multicultblandness within my lifetime.

      • Any musician worth their salt, and needless to say, regardless of their skin color or country of origin, can learn the Viennese styles after completing a comprehensive education at Vienna’s University of Music. In the last half century, thousands of excellent Asians musicians have done so, and yet almost none of them have been hired by the Philharmoniker or Symphoniker.

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          I disagree. It’s comparable to learning a foreign language. If you don’t grow up in it, you still can learn it later. But some are better at it and some will never master it without a heavy accent. It’s not only the “Viennese style”, it’s also a bit more, a central European general attitude toward music making, a subordinance of the individual to the music and it’s inner structure and melodic, harmonic and rhythmical richness.
          Antagonistic to the shallow virtuosic and show aspects of musical performance, that today are so cherished by the industry in order to market music to the masses.
          It’s a culture, and I hope the Viennese can for as long as possible resist the onslaught of the globalization machinery, that knows primarily averaged dull mediocrity and shallow virtuosic technical excellence.

          Never have orchestras everywhere had higher technical playing standards than today. But the music is increasingly getting lost. The clip with Mrs. Choi playing the flute in WIlhelm Tell is just one little example for it.

          • I am surprised to find myself in agreement with your position regarding the need of an orchestral player to be just that and not add jarring solos that detract from the flow of the music. Having spent a great deal of time (don’t know if it was well-spent) listening to the MO in its pre-Vanska days; grandstanding was one of the many great flaws the players, and the conductors, regularly seemed to be comfortable with. In fact, as a dedicated Mahlerian, for example, I almost always find the European orchestras preferable to the US, in their readings, for just that reason. One exception to that is a performance the MO gave of the M1 “Titan” under the baton of Klaus Tennstedt, in which these same players performed exquisitely.

          • I disagree.

            Now here’s my take on learning a foreign language. I was raised speaking English as one of my mother tongues. Now, I have many (yes, multiple) friends who learned English much later than I did. I started at zero, they started at 14, 18, and even later. We can converse in English AS TWO NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKERS. They get every single nuance, their vocabulary is stellar, their grammar perfect, their accent non-extant. I would say that even their mindset changes, as they become fluent in a foreign language.

            To paraphrase what William Osborne says, the idea that something is so “arcane” (his word) that one cannot understand it without having been bred in it, and simply has no chance and therefore should not even try, is the essence of bigotry. The so-called Viennese style becomes something that the Viennese want to shun others from approaching, instead of being something so great that they want to share it.

          • Anon:
            “The so-called Viennese style becomes something that the Viennese want to shun others from approaching, instead of being something so great that they want to share it.”

            This could have been a point if it wouldn’t completely contradict reality.
            In fact, that there are many foreign musicians playing in Viennese orchestras. All of them were able to adapt. Most musicians in Viennese orchestras are not Viennese. Many of them are not Austrian, not German, not European. Visit the web site of VSP or VPO (VPO is simpler to look over), check the names and origins of the musicians. You hardly will find any Viennese musicians, but you will find a lot of foreign names. To my knowledge, as of today, the overwhelming majority of students of an orchestra instrument at Vienna University of Music are not Viennese!

            Of course, Viennese musicians want to share their tradition of playing, their attitutes towards making music. Vienna University of Music is open for foreign students, Vienna Conservatory is open for foreign students. Viennese musicians offer many master classes, summer academies, winter courses etc., and Viennese musicians offer these courses even in countries far away.
            However, there are people presenting a fundamental hostile attitude towards everything that carries “Vienna” anywhere in its name (read this blog, eg.), so please, don’t blame Viennese musicians for the behaviour of these people.

          • Anonymous says:

            What Austrian says is true. Viennese orchestras are open to foreigners, but only as long as they can look Viennese. Apparently the Viennese style to some extent is what you look like.

          • Anonymous says:

            Excuse me, I do not wish to mislead. There should be a semi-colon between “foreigners,” and “but”.

          • Agreed 100%.
            As Fabio Fabrici writes: “Never have orchestras everywhere had higher technical playing standards than today.” The same applies to other businesses too. In today’s world, where you literally can grab intelligent, well trained people off the street, being a member of a team is not mainly about skills, it is about fitting in.

            For important roles, the usualy trial periods of 3 to 6 months are often way too short. Often jobs go to people who look great on paper and/or high gloss photographies. People who pose in a certain way or have the right diplomas. On the surface such people are always the right fit, but after you crack open the shell, you often find a very different core.

    • Dear Mr Osborne, thank you very much for your well-written and compelling post.

      For those who trumpet the idea that we should preserve the Viennese orchestras as we preserve the Inuit, or that racial appearance is as much as part of the music-making as the actual performance, I dismiss as backwards thinking. Music is not a museum-relic. Music is a basic human necessity and form of expression that transcends racial borders. A lot of classical music as we know it was developed in Vienna, but to therefore claim sovereignty over it makes me question their motive to make music.

  20. Wow, look at all these non-Asians commenting…and defending.

    This is a legitimate racist case. Complaining that she is too friendly, having problems with recordings being made – sure, for you guys it is a sin to be successful. You say she cannot prove it legally – sure she can. And remember how Hitler got into power – through seemingly legal processes!!! Maybe these people who voted negative DO want to be united with Germany – now what, as a Fourth Reich?

    • Don Stein says:

      100% on Jasmine’s side (and I am a mighty whitey).

      I look at it like this, either be completely racist or not all all. If Austria had a 100% closed-door policy, then pain like this wouldn’t be experienced. The problem is that they need all the “little yellow people” because of the money they bring into the country. This is half-assed and is an insult to die-hard racists. This simply indicates that Austrians are just a bunch of thugs. In fact, Hitler was more noble (ouch).

      On a side note, Asia is one of the most racist places on Earth, so I doubt Jasmine is shocked out of her mind by the decision.

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        Wow, dude, you sure do have a lot of prejudices and stereotypes in your head. No wonder you need to resort to crude black and white thinking – either 100% this or 100% that – in order to make it easier for you to categorize and “grasp” issues which are actually very complex.

        • Don Stein says:

          It is more humane to resort to crude “black and white thinking” then be a closet racist.

          Austrian musicians have told me in private that they don’t want the “little yellow people” around.

          I understand that.

          Austrians simply do not want to turn their country into an “international buffet” like the US. The Japanese and Koreans are notorious for their racist tendencies, so Jasmine shouldn’t be surprised about her recent experience since she is well aware that racism runs deep in her own nation.

          My beef, however, is that Austrians are not being “honest” racists. They milk the Asians, especially the Japanese, to death with all the conservatories, concerts, summer festivals, private lessons, etc., the whole time knowing very well that these people don’t stand a chance in hell.

          Asian musicians in Austria have the “Arbeit” covered, but they never going to be “macht frei.” Same thing goes for foreign musicians in their countries as well, so I don’t exactly feel sorry for them.

  21. “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”

    Is the above common protocol during the trial year as well? If so, would Jasmine have been included in these official meetings? I would like to hear further why such meetings (note, according to Jasmin none were about her actual playing skills) were held in the first place.

    • Also, 42% voted in favor of keeping Jasmine while 58% voted against. That by no means is an unanimous decision. Even if the majority of the orchestra had no prejudice against Jasmine, a small number of musicians who might have could have certainly changed the outcome of her tenure.

      • It is important to understand that often the most bigoted members of orchestras obsessively campaign against musicians they want removed. This very likely reveals the nature of at least some of these meetings. It only takes a handful of opponents to make life hell for a musician in her trial year.

  22. Scott Mozlin says:

    I am a violinist and Assistant Personnel Manager with the Cincinnati Symphony, the ensemble that Jasmine played with as Assistant Principal for several years before her departure to Vienna. She may or may not have “fit in” with Vienna, but we were very sorry to see her go! She is a fabulous musician and there was never a question here of her not blending or being too soloistic. . I hope that she returns to an American orchestra, maybe even back to Cincinnati, where her talents will be appreciated. It is totally understandable for her to feel hurt and rejected but I have no doubt that she will eventually land on her feet and have the last laugh…

    • Brian O'D says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Scott….and do hope she comes back here

    • YEAH to the US orchestras for a chance to have Jasmine in the group.

    • I think Scott has nailed the main issue — that of ‘fit’. Even Ms. Choi alluded to that when she said, “… I had the complete “wrong” package to become a member of this orchestra.”

      Ms. Choi knew what she was getting into, walked into the belly of the beast and did her best. How can anything but good come out of this? A person with this much courage in the face of conflict is just about unstoppable, imo.

  23. William Osborne makes my point much more thoroughly. Everyone should be aware of the case of Abbie Conant and her experiences in Munich as well. Those attitudes persist.

  24. 1 year contract, no renewed. End of story. But not for her, who thinks of herself as being someone more special, than all other musicians who don’t have their trial contracts renewed.

    She got a chance to play in one of the world’s finest orchestras for a year. She should be thankful for the opportunity, not cause polemic publicity for herself by coming up with some statements, which serve the anti-Vienna people on this planet.

    This whiny girl has just lost a chance to ever get a job in one of the orchestras I support.

    • “Girl”? Interesting choice of word.

      • Good point, Halldor. I also noticed that.

      • Yes, girl. Her behaviour is just slightly above toddler level. And the whole issue reminds me of a kindergarten.

        • As pointed out below, the prime example of kindergarten is this: I won’t play with you if you play with her!

          Note: “You” to be acted by Three Orchestras, and “Her” to be acted by Choi. Kisses!

        • Her behavior? Can you clarify that, please, Beni? What has she done except not get the job & respond once to Mr. Lebrecht’s post?

          • It’s too easy and childish to just jump on a nicely presented discriminationa and racism wagon and try to overpaint all the other facts which speak against her.

            As stated below, such people, who publicly accuse others of racism, but fail to see that there might be other reasons for their failure, can not expect me to fork out my money to finance their salaries.

            I have no place for such people who abuse or try to abuse, the power of such strong claims.

          • Beni, no one said there are ZERO faults and that it’s all racism. Obviously there was some sort of misfit. What I find so obnoxious on your part is the failure to understand that racism in Vienna is a very old and worn issue, and that it was POSSIBLE that it played a certain part. I’m not hailing Choi as the perfect queen of the flute, but you certainly seem to think that Vienna has never heard of racism. It still goes on, and it is CURRENT, and it’s a bit thick to ignore that.

            PS. I also find obnoxious that you keep referring to your power to raise and fall orchestras, but whatever, you rich folk can think that you control the world with ‘your’ money!

          • Exactly, Anon. Re: Beni, I think we need to stop feeding the troll here. This is a person who is arguing just for argument’s sake.

          • @Anon: I’m not as rich as I’d have to be to control the world. In this part of the thread I was referring simply to the abuse of racism and discrimination claims, whilst not to mention a word about what the accuser might have done wrong. Such behaviour I can not and will not tolerate amongst the people who are, in part or in full financed by my or my company’s money. Btw, I also don’t tolerate racism, but we are at a point, where I more and more, in and outside my company, am faced with blatant attempts at claiming inexisting discrimination and rascism for profit. In this and other current “Vienna” cases I can see clear tendencies towards this.

      • It is easier to dismiss Ms. Choi by calling her a “girl” than to acknowledge the facts, which are that she stepped up to a challenge and did her best, but it was not a good fit.

        • Whatever she did positively, she destroyed with her statement. I might see the “girl” comment a bit fnnier than some. One word wouldn’t cause such an uproar, if there was more substance to the original accusations.

          • You are entitled to your opinion. I disagree. I think Ms. Choi did the best thing for herself by speaking up before moving on. She has taken on the bullies.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Pamela Brown says:
            August 18, 2013 at 8:28 pm

            “You are entitled to your opinion. I disagree. I think Ms. Choi did the best thing for herself by speaking up before moving on. She has taken on the bullies.”

            …the “bullies” who gave her a trial year in the first place. Sometimes, things don’t work out for principal candidates in prominent positions. Then they just move on and they usually find the position that suits them. I know a guy who won principal clarinet with the BP – male, German, blond – but who was not confirmed after his 2 year trial. That had nothing to do with “racism “. He still is a great clarinetist and he now holds a professorship at a big German conservatory.
            Choi did a great disservice to herself and women in orchestras in general by behaving the way she did after failing her trial year.

          • “…the “bullies” who gave her a trial year in the first place.”

            With all due respect, nobody “gave” Ms. Choi anything. She earned the spot. She knew what she was getting into. She chose to step into that bully playground when she auditioned.

            Why not agree-to-disagree on her speaking up? She did say that it was not a good fit. Is that something we can perhaps agree on?

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Nobody, no matter how good they may be, is entitled to be given a trial period in an orchestra, or indeed in any job. It is up to the orchestra to decide who earned the spot, not you. In this case, the “bullies” decided that she had earned the trial year, so they invited her in. If they were all “racists” and “sexists”, they wouldn’t have done that in the first place. It’s really that simple.
            And if she knew that she was “stepping into that bully playground” at the beginning of that year, why does she now feel she has to “speak up”? In reality, there is nothing to “speak up” about here. If her background and gender would have been a problem, they wouldn’t have given her the trial. They maybe wouldn’t even have invited her to the audition. But they did, they found her good enough to try out for a year, then they found she wasn’t able to fit into the orchestra. You should know that that happens sometimes – in any place.
            You should also remember that you know next to nothing about Austria, the people, the language, the culture. All you know is crude cliches and prejudices which apparently make you feel good to have about these people. That’s a mild form of racism, too.

          • You put a quote in your reply from beni, but you seem to be replying to my post.

            Ms. Choi chose her arena. It happens to have been full of bullies. That is my opinion.

            I do know about Austria, and I certainly do know about orchestral players. I could tell you of an extreme case of bullying, but at the present time the situation is being handled privately.

            From my standpoint, bullying is a part of this underworld of music. Vienna may just have more extreme examples.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            And here he have an example where a female, Asian player was deemed good enough to invite her for a trial year, so “racism” and “sexism” obviously played no role in the decision to invite her to try out. You are entitled to your opinions, but since you don’t know what went on behind the scenes there and you don’t know the people in that orchestra, those opinions are just based on prejudices and stereotypes. It may make you feel better about yourself to accuse others of such things, but in this case, it is actually you who is jumping to conclusions based on prejudices here.
            And yes, unfortunately there are bullies and bigots in many orchestras, just as in many organizations of any kind, and there are probably some in this orchestra, too. But you are generalizing about a group of nearly 130 people here.
            I was in your town last week and I met a guy who explained to me that the Muslims, Jews and black people are the reasons for everything that is “wrong with America” and that the country would be much better off if it was a “white, Christian nation”. So does that mean that all people in Minneapolis are like that?

          • If Minneapolis had the two orchestras with the two lowest ratios of women in the world (like Vienna,) if the Minnesota Orchestra had the two orchestras with the lowest ratio of Asian members (like Vienna,) if the Minnesota Orchestra had a history of members making anti-Asian statements (like Vienna,) and if 26% of the people voted for a racist, right wing extremist party (like in Vienna) then the statement by the individual you mention might in Minneapolis be taken as a larger norm worthy of serious concern. But of course, you will understand none of this and find the concerns about Vienna all an injustice and an anti-Germanic outrage.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            No, I don’t see it that way, and I never said I did. I am concerned about these things, too, but I am also concerned about how quickly and easily some people, you foremost of all, allow themselves to jump to conclusions and make broadly generalized and slanderous statements about the people in this orchestra, and especially in this particular situation.
            I just did a quick (and probably not completely accurate) count of the ladies in both orchestras. Looks like the WS have about 19%, the MO has 27%. So that’s better, but it’s not a huge difference. Does the MO have any African-American musicians? I looked at a few pictures but couldn’t see any. What about Hispanic Americans?
            You are probably talking about FPÖ and BZÖ. I think it is reason for concern that combined, they got that many votes in the last national election in Austria but the polls for the next election show a significant down trend for them. In the last presidential election in the US, 45% of the people in Minnesota voted for the Republicans which are pretty far right wing these days. Occasionally, and increasingly often, they make the FPÖ and BZÖ almost look liberal.
            So all these things aren’t as grossly different as you want to make them appear to be. But you still jump out of the closet and yell “racist” and “sexist” every time that subject comes up.

          • The VS has 20 women out of 121 positions or 16.5%. This is up from 13.3% in 2009. I haven’t checked the Berlin and Czech Philharmonics lately, but 16.5% might move the VS ahead of them for the 3rd or 4th lowest ratios in the world. This could move the Berlin Phil down a notch or two. These low representations should not be overlooked or rationalized.

            There is no major city in the US where an openly racist political party like the FPÖ gets 26% of the vote. In addition, Vienna is the only capital city in the world with a ratio like that.

    • Thanks Beni, you perfectly resumed the situation. And I would like to add: please, make your ears working above all! Listen to her Rossini with the VSO as well as plenty of other videos that she publish (almost) daily and you will quickly understand why her trial contact ends here. Her level doesn’t it the standard of such a big and prestigious orchestra. That’s all (t say the truth, I can’t explain even how is possible that she won the competition one year ago…). But I couldn’t agree more with the fact that the majority of the orchestra voted against her. She is causing such a polemic publicity with the purpose to distract people from the true problem. A bit pathetic

      • Vienna Symphony a “big and prestigious” orchestra? Oh, please. VSO is the younger, less prestigious poor sibling of the Vienna Philharmonic. Listen to the orchestra carefully in those videos you’ve mentioned, MKa. Pay particular attention the the English Horn during the William Tell, which is noticeably out of tune. The level of wind playing is not especially stellar and Vienna Symphony is not particularly considered a world class orchestra. Cincinnati is a bigger, more prestigious and artistically superior orchestra. Jasmine should happily return there.

        And let’s clarify the bit about Jasmine “causing” public polemic. WRONG. Not to mention names, but the polemic was begun by a prominent music commentator we all know and love, not by Jasmine. After this person stirred everyone up in a frenzy over racism, Jasmine simply responded.

        • Michaela:
          “Vienna Symphony is not particularly considered a world class orchestra. Cincinnati is a bigger, more prestigious and artistically superior orchestra. Jasmine should happily return there.”

          Assuming your point, then, as a consequence, Jasmine Choi would certainly be happy not to stay in VSO, happy to return to Cincinnati. Excellent. Seems to be a win-win-situation. Why then so much ado about nothing? The sad truth: There’s actually a media campaign against VSO. VSO is the victim, not Jasmine Choi.

          • I would assume, too, that Jasmine Choi would be happy to return to Cincinnati after the treatment she received from a some members of the orchestra.

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          Michaela says:
          August 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm

          “Vienna Symphony a “big and prestigious” orchestra? Oh, please. VSO is the younger, less prestigious poor sibling of the Vienna Philharmonic. Listen to the orchestra carefully in those videos you’ve mentioned, MKa. Pay particular attention the the English Horn during the William Tell, which is noticeably out of tune. The level of wind playing is not especially stellar and Vienna Symphony is not particularly considered a world class orchestra. Cincinnati is a bigger, more prestigious and artistically superior orchestra.”

          The Cincinnati Symphony has about 95 members, the Wiener Symphoniker about 122. I don’t think anyboddy would argue that the WS are quite on the same level as the Wiener Philharmoniker, but then very few orchestras in the world are. That certainly doesn’t make them their “poor sibling”. As far as prestige and artistic superiority is concerned, I don’t think you will find many who support your view. That is too vague to quantify anyway. But if you go to Amazon and search for recordings by the WS, you get about 4500 hits. When you search for the Cincinnati Orchestra, you only get 280.

      • She might be on the standard of a great orchestra (I’m not qualified to judge that).

        But speaking as an enthusiastic concert goer (although not in Vienna) she, in my eyes and ears, doesnt fit into this band.

        I’m not at the point, that I’m wondering why she was hired at all. Was it the constant public claims they discriminate women and Asians? Was it a desperate try to hire a “poster girl”?

  25. Jim Einear says:

    Just boycott the VSO, then. Plenty of others to chose from.

  26. This is very interesting.

    I guess that even if the orchestra on that part of the world is not bigoted, it may not hire a foreigner-looking musician because it may be unfairly tagged as a bigot if the trial period doesn’t work out.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Absolutely. I think she has caused great harm to the chances of Asian musicians even getting a trial in that corner of the world. She got hers, failed, and apparently felt she needed to not just burn, but completely blow up the bridge behind her, not even thinking about what implications that might have, such as the ones pointed out by you.

      • Sweetheart, it would be any minority’s luck to not be awarded a trial ‘in that corner of the world’. It’s exactly just what you say: a corner of the world, and I wouldn’t want to wish it on anyone to have to go through this. If you are denying that there is racism in Vienna, you are deluded and proud. If you are not denying it and yet backing the orchestra, you are inconsistent. (If you are not denying it, you should have the sense to know that racism is rarely reported – which is why I laud Jasmine in this case.)

        If she blew up a bridge, she did everyone a favor, including, it seems, the orchestras who want the black tuxes to shine of white faces.

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          Yeah, Vienna, ‘that corner of the world’, where Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Brahms, Bruckner and Mahler wrote and performed their music. It’s of course nothing like the great Philadelphia, where Mrs. Choi was schooled.

          And can you believe the racism in Vienna, Austrians refuse to give birth to Asian looking babies. Which is apparent from looking at the babies in Austria. I’d say shame on them.

          • Mozart died in poverty and preferred Prague; Haydn worked in Hungary and achieved his greatest success in Britain, Schubert died in poverty and neglect, Bruckner was systematically insulted and belittled, and Mahler was driven out of Vienna after a racist campaign. Beethoven and Brahms seemed to do OK there. Not a uniformly stunning record.

          • Yes, since Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Brahms, Bruckner, and Mahler are still alive somewhere and wrote so their music would be promoted for the Greatest Corner called Vienna, hail the Viennese and deign them sovereignty and ownership. It’s not racism when someone says they are “white men that plays music by white men for white people” – it’s cultural protection! Of course, Mahler might have been picked on, but in the long run, he did Vienna a favor so we’ll let him pass. (See )

            Actually, on second thought, since Viennese music is so great (no sarcasm there), I think we should pay taxes to Austria every time we hear the aforementioned composers. Viennese music is only done right in Vienna – I don’t believe in this ‘music belongs to all humanity’ mumbo-jumbo.

        • There is racism everywhere (in all corners of the world”), not just in Vienna. Focusing only on Vienna is racism itself.

  27. What doesn’t seem to make sense is that the Viennese orchestras seem to select players from minority groups (anybody other than white and male), yet in many cases refuse to give them tenure (Have any Asians been given tenure in a Viennese orchestra?). If it is indeed true that the reason is because they are NOT white and male, then why do they even bother giving them trials? Perhaps the situation is changing there, and a part of the orchestra is willing to have minority groups in the orchestra while the majority is not. When and if the organizations decide to open their positions to minorities, then and only then should they invite them to audition. Paradoxically, they should require that all applicants include a photo, and then not invite the minorities that they know they will never be given tenure to the auditions.

    • Many German-speaking orchestras do require photos. And it is true that some members harbor racist views while some do not — usually the majority. This means minorities are invited then face stiff campaigns of resistance from racist members. It is very difficult for candidates in their trial year to survive these efforts. Questions about inviting minorities should not be in question since it is against both Austrian and European law for publicly funded institutions to exclude people on the base of race or gender.

      • Well, if musicians belonging to minority groups are invited to auditions where they have little chance of obtaining tenure, then you are describing a Catch 22 situation. It makes no sense to go through the rigmarole in order not to discriminate against minority groups because it is illegal. It would also be illegal not to give them tenure based on their race, religion or sex. So then we are back to square one. The law ends up being broken regardless of whether or not a minority member wins an audition, and is not given tenure, if the reason (always impossible to prove) is based on the fact that they are…(fill in the blank with the minority of your choice). Yes, it would be politically incorrect and illegal to discriminate against minority groups, but on the other hand, the orchestras that do discriminate (AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) would do themselves and their fellow musicians a favor by not inviting musicians to the auditions that won’t be able to be tenured.

        • Thaddeus Watson says:

          This is nonsense!!!!! There are many, many Asians, Blacks and Latinos and other “white” musicans from Australia, Canada and the US in German orchestras who have won auditions and gained their tenure in principle positions. (question of style) There are also those who haven’t passed their tenure periods, some deserved others not. That is life in an orchestra.
          If we go on like this, I can ask, when the BBC Wales in Cardiff did not vote positively on the appointment of one of my students, a Korean woman, for principal flute two seasons ago, why there was no outcry. One rehearsal and recording went sour during a trial period of some five months. It was decided that she didn’t have enough experience. My point being that in time players display many different aspects of their musical personalities, their abilities to adapt to different conductors and styles all come under consideration and scrutiny. No matter how well someone plays, there is usually some form of criticism about their playing after such long periods of time. No one plays in such a manner which defies all criticism, and from what I am reading this seems to be the general consensus in this thread.

          The style question in Europe is a different theme altogether. It can also be irrational at times, and help to rally various conflicting sub-groups within an orchestra together under the flag of homogeneity. Oddly enough, these groups often consist of orchestra members of various ethnic minorities. There are many underlying and complex reasons why groups function in the way in which they do, and orchestras are treasure troves of hidden complexes, fears, and insecurities all manifesting themselves in crisis periods.

          Recently, in a psycho-drama seminar, I put a number of scenes from a crisis situation on the psycho-dramtic stage to try and get a handle on some of the underlying motives which have been expressed while making decisions about colleagues and conductors. It is very interesting to observe an orchestra as a group phenomenon instead of an artistic one. Orchestra’s are complex organisms, and some orchestra’s have begun coaching sessions to deal with the ever changing demands from the public, and collegium.

          • Hang on, which blacks and latinos in German orchestras are you talking about? I work in Germany and so far I have seen one black musician, and zero latinos.

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            Berlin alone has lots of “latinos” in all the major orchestras, other cities as well. Just check the published member lists.
            Black classical musicians are indeed very rare in Germany, but considering that less than 0.25 % of the German population are Afro-Germans, that is not surprising.

          • Don Stein says:


            Thaddeus Watson is an African-American playing in a German orchestra, so replace 0 with 1.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            The RSO Frankfurt had an African-American principal conductor – Dean Dixon – from 1961-74, during a period of time in which he still would have had to sit in the back of the bus in many states of his home country.

      • Fabio Fabrici says:

        For which of course we have no evidence in this case, quite to the contrary since Mrs. Choi was chosen in the auditions, but let’s throw our dirt nevertheless, maybe something sticks.

  28. Perhaps it was less the fact that Miss. Choi is Asian or female, and more the fact that she is simply not a European orchestral player. She should have stayed in Cincinnati where she had her ‘bread buttered’, and never attempted such a move blindly. She may have had the charm behind a screen, but once you see her in an ensemble, everything changes. She is the most distracting orchestral player I have ever seen, moving and jumping about in her chair with with every finger that is moved up or down. Though her tone can be beautiful at times, she simply does not have the understanding of balance or volume in a European orchestral setting.

    Her playing is American soloist through-and-through, and lacks finesse in such an orchestral sense (most senses, actually); she is loud and shrill almost always, her tone sticking out rather than blending, lacking the warmth and depth that the other flutists of the section do, and she was constantly taking time where one should be instead, ceding to the important voice. It’s obvious Miss. Choi was more focused on being the show-off ‘star-flutist’ who won the Viennese chair – more akin a red-headed stepchild griping for attention, empty compliments and affirmation from mommy, which she is probably still searching for.

    To try and add my beliefs to the orchestra-raised complaints that arose as to the fact that she was not educated in Austria, it is not because the Viennese schools are thought to be superior. Rather, they are much like stock-houses with various levels of wealth and talent, akin to the way Miss. Choi’s alma mater is thought of in America… However, as far as woodwinds go, the Viennese oboe is quite difficult to learn how to play next to. This was a skill Miss Choi struggled with throughout the various concerts I attended, most likely because she was not exposed to it during her training either in Korea or at Curtis, a school name she constantly dropped perhaps due to insecurities.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      I know the Viennese oboe is a different instrument from the French oboes played almost everywhere else, and they do have a very distinct sound which is immediately recognizable. It would be interesting if you could elaborate a little on how it is more difficult to play next to than perhaps other oboe styles.

      • Anonymous says:

        The Viennese oboe differs in the fact that they contain a choking baby duck inside. As for Karl’s vitriolic rant above, one can only wonder what personal issues he has against Jasmine in particular, or against American musicians in general. Either way, these opinions are not to be taken seriously.

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          Why not? It’s a rather mainstream commentary when it comes to describing the differences in musical and tonal cultures on both sides of the pond.

          • Anonymous says:

            If these prejudices against American musicians and conservatories are mainstream, it is only because they have been repeated so frequently by novices. In this context, “mainstream” is not to be confused with “informed”.

            As an American who has won auditions on both sides of the pond (including Germany), I’m all too aware of this silly stereotype of Americans as uncultured, loud, brute players. There is beautiful playing of the highest quality in America, as there is as well in Vienna and Germany, of course. My experience with the majority of my Austrian and German friends and colleagues has been overwhelmingly positive, and most European players of my generation (including an increasing number who fight to come to the US to study, mind you), have nothing but respect and admiration for their American counterparts, as we do for them. The vocal minority, those who jeer Americans at every chance, tend to be the ones who don’t play well enough to give a second thought to.

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            Without describing her tone and mannerism as necessarily “American”, his description in her particular case still fits. Of course there are stereotypes, but some of it also has a background that is not all unjustified. Individual players come as different as they are, anywhere, but you just have to listen to certain orchestras extensively on both sides of the pond, to catch a certain common denominator in the balance between technical excellence, and musical cantabile phrasing and articulation. I could give you numerous examples with youtube clips alone where it is obvious.

          • Anonymous says:

            Fabio, you misread Karl’s post. It is a clear slander of “American playing”:

            Her playing is American soloist through-and-through, and lacks finesse in such an orchestral sense (most senses, actually); she is loud and shrill almost always, her tone sticking out rather than blending, lacking the warmth and depth that the other flutists of the section do, and she was constantly taking time where one should be instead, ceding to the important voice.

            According to Karl, Americans lack finesse, are loud and shrill, and can’t blend in a section. He’s clearly not spent any time in our side of the pond, observing the teaching that goes on in schools like Curtis, Cleveland Institute, and Juilliard, and he’s completely unaware of the level of ensemble playing in the Cleveland Orchestra and Chicago Symphony.

            For kicks, I got out my Wiener Symphoniker recording of the Brahms symphonies with Sawallisch conducting. Intonation and blend problems are persistent throughout the wind section. All in all, it was a terrifically dull recording. If Jasmine had difficulties “blending” with the Symphoniker winds, the problem may not have been entirely her.

          • Anonymous,

            I am relieved to know that my thoughts are shared by some, but I realize now, my writing came across as a humongous generalisation of the American tendencies towards loud playing. My apologies! I of course am not foolish enough to believe that EVERY SINGLE player from the US plays that way, nor do I think that there are no merits to playing loudly, especially with the typical size of American orchestras. However, the Musikverein is one of the most acoustically perfect concert halls in the world, being that there is very little in the way of architecture to “get in the way” of projection. Thus, like the acoustics in Carnegie Hall for example, everything comes across loud and clear, both good and bad. Woodwinds do not need to push at all in order to be heard in a hall like the Musikverein. Jasmine was obviously trained to play loudly 110% of the time (it probably did not help that the great Julius Baker was mostly deaf when she was studying with him), and this trait could not be farther from necessary with both a smaller orchestra like the VSO (in terms of Jasmines previous employer Cincinnati) and in a hall such as the ‘M’.

            To quip with your thought that I obviously know nothing about American orchestral tendencies, here are a few things that might make you think twice about such an assumption. Mathieu Dufour, principal flute in Chicago was educated in France, and his playing is in no way forced, loud, or shrill. He has one of the most fluid flute tones I think one can hear today. He has recorded solo flute repertoire, but the discs are not very popular in America. Why? Because his solo playing is found to be a bit older fashioned by current American standards, favoring consistent tonal quality over volume. He is also one of the only principal flutes in America who does not favor the “fuzzy” tones which many European and Asian players alike have come to denote as ‘American”. Joshua Smith, principal in Cleveland is a Curtis alum, and plays similarly to Jasmine in terms of the soloistic flair he adds to his orchestral performance, but his playing is much more refined in terms of tonality and volume, and blending is no issue because of it (and his use of an older fashioned wooden headjoint at the sacrifice of volume – an interestingly European choice). He is the superior player by FAR. There is a reason he won that job at such a young age. While his playing might not be classified as “Euro”, it is much more suitable for a European orchestra. Someone with his playing tendencies would be welcome in any Euro orchestra, regardless of the fact that he is American born and trained. He at least plays with the finesse and nuance most Euro orchestras prefer over volume.

            However, let us not trade generalisation for generalisation! You assume that I have not spent any time on your side of the pond. I could not wonder why you think that, aside from the fact that I might be one of those stereotypically bitter, xenophobic Austrians who believes everything Austrian is superior. Well. They’re not, and I’m not afraid to admit that. I am in fact a Juilliard trained cellist, and find that the American thought-standard for string playing is about the same as the European standards. Meaning, there is not quite the division between schools of tonal thought. However, there is still such a divide in terms of American vs. Euro wind playing. Both have their merits, but crossovers are far-and-few between, and finding a musician who is capable of playing both ways is not very likely. Miss Choi obviously was not one of those extraordinary cases.

    • Libor Novacek Sen. says:

      I fully agree from the string player´s position.

    • I guess only the American orchestra are warm hearted enough to welcome European players to audition for US orchestra. Music is music, good music is good music… Only the european are still closed behind their “school”.

    • Karl, I do agree with your comments about her playing style. Her tone is off centered with too much force, pitch always slightly sharp- shrill is the perfect word for it.

      I was not able to find musical depth in Ms. Choi’s playing. She seems like a person who’s playing the flute to just become famous/popular, and who likes to be in the center of the attention whatever the cause might be. I would not want to play in the same orchestra with her. I would get bothered every time I have to hear her.

      But you have to realize that not all “American trained” flutists are playing like that. There are plenty of beautiful players in America. Let’s not make generalization about the American flutists because of her. That would be unfortunate.

      • I would love to do a blind test with all of you. People have a tendency to lump Asian musicians as flashy and shallow but I have come to find that when people can’t see the person playing, they are much more objective and often contradict whatever conclusion, shallow themselves, would otherwise come to.

        • May I suggest to you to close your eyes, listen to the Guillaume Tell clip and “enjoy” extreme rubato, tempo changes, almost sudden stops etc.?

    • Don Stein says:

      “She is the most distracting orchestral player I have ever seen, moving and jumping about in her chair with with every finger that is moved up or down.” = absolutely perfect for Vienna! LOL

      BTW, you give WAY too much credit to Joshua Smith. Obviously when it comes to the flute world, you know more and more about less and less. And the comment about Baker being “deaf” when Jasmine studied with him pretty much sums up your character (even if he happened to be deaf at the time).

      Now I know that Juilliard doesn’t always accept the best.

      • Quite the disrespectful reply for someone coming across as sitting atop a high horse! I suggest that you come down from said horse, and share your thoughts on Mr. Smith so that we might engage in meaningful discussion, lest you make yourself look petty and aggressive. Which actually, is absolutely perfect for America! LOL -.- Sigh—

        I also never said I thought much of Mr. Smith – on the contrary, I admit I am not at all familiar with his solo work and therefore am unable to form a very well-rounded opinion on his playing outside of the few orchestral performances I have either heard him play in person or on recordings. It is from these experiences I based my opinion upon him being more suitable for a European orchestra. Naturally, I wouldn’t think the average American too keen on his playing for exactly said qualities I base aforementioned thoughts on… It comes back down to the Euro-American wind differences. You’ve therefore, with your negativity, achieved nothing other than to solidify my original statement.

        I take it you think Choi the better player?

        I never said that they did, and would be a fool to. ;)

        For the record, I hold nothing but respect for Julius Baker, hence the ‘great’ reference. I was stating a fact by which I meant no disrespect – it is widely known that his hearing was declining in his last few years! Having been a student of several elderly professors myself, there is a tendency amongst them to request students to play loudly, for obvious reasons! One of my favorite recordings is of Mr. Baker playing the Debussy Trio on LP. Such a beautiful sound that has one of the most grandiose low registers I have yet to hear an equal to. He truly was an amazing musician.

  29. Micha Davis says:

    as an orchestra member for 30 years I can say that in most orchestras there are few reasons to hire a player that were’nt spoke about here. most of the orchestra players would choose the best player. let’s say it’s a flute audition.if the other flutists in the section are worried that the new player would sound much better then them they might choose someone less good and justify it with other reasons.if it’s a female flutist and the section are all male they might prefer her to other male flutist unless they’re gay.if the auditioning flutist is a student of one of them they might vote for him\her unless they hate each the flutist is a beautiful women most chances she’ll get more votes from the men then from the women in the orchestra who don’t want competition. those are the more common reasons for selecting a player then racism or chauvenism

  30. Dear Jasmine
    YOU ROCK!!!
    Love, Elena

    Dear Norman
    Thanks for keeping the world in touch (even in Mexico!)
    Greeting from sunny Mexico
    Elena Durán & Michael Emmerson

  31. if she made it that far she certainly has the chops to make it anywhere!!! Things always happen for a reason, im sure there are better things for her ahead!

  32. Many of the criticisms offered here about Ms. Choi are ironic due to the coded nature of the language. One senses bigoted beliefs hidden behind subjective evaluations carefully calculated to appear innocent. In this sense, it is informative to look at a historical example involving Gustav Mahler.

    Wilhelm Jerger, the Chairman of the Philharmonic during the Reich, who was also a Lieutenant in the SS, wrote a book about the orchestra in 1942. He presents a racist portrayal of Mahler, who became the General Music Director of the Vienna Philharmonic in 1898, replacing Hans Richter, who had led the orchestra for the previous 23 years. (The Vienna Philharmonic refers to the Richter years as its “golden age.”) Mahler’s tenure was troubled in part by a continual pattern of anti-Semitic harassment and he left the orchestra after three years. Using his own words and quoting those of Max Kalbeck, Jerger draws a comparison of Richter and Mahler that reveals the anti-Semitic attitudes Mahler confronted:

    Quote: “A completely different type of personality entered with Mahler, ‘as there’ — to speak with Max Kalbeck’s vivid words — ‘instead of the tall blond bearded Hun, who placed himself wide and calm before the orchestra like an unshakable, solidly walled tower, there was a gifted shape [begabte Gestalt] balancing over the podium, thin, nervous, and with extraordinarily gangly limbs.’ In fact, a greater contrast was really not possible. There the patriarchal Hans Richter in his stolidity and goodness, and his extremely hearty and collegial solidarity with the orchestra, and here Gustav Mahler, oriented to the new objectivity [neue Sachlichkeit] –nervous, hasty, scatty, intellectualish [sic]-the music a pure matter of his overbred intellect.” (End of Quote.)

    It is astounding how much of the same language is used to attack Ms. Choi. Like Mahler, she moves too much, she’s scatty, she’s thin, she’s nervous, she’s too gregarious, she’s strident, she doesn’t fit, she’s too individualistic, and so on. And of course, her colleagues are stolid, collegial, wide, unshakeable, calm, etc., etc. And since she’s Asian, the implications about tall, wide, and blond and the ever-repeated comments about her not fitting in shout with historical further historical ironies. The transparent sub text is one of chauvinistic masculinity and *physically* inherited cultural superiority that “outsiders” cannot have.

    Jerger’s book is an object lesson, because it vividly illustrates how national cultural identity in western art music can be intertwined with sexism, racism, and chauvinistic ethnocentricity. Values such as these are still deeply embedded in Germanic culture. These societies have made exemplary progress in changing these views, but there is still much work to be done. So it is virtually impossible not to situate Ms. Choi’s experiences within this historic and current context.

    • The bibliographic reference for my above comment: Wilhelm Jerger, “Erbe und Sendung” (Wien: Wiener Verlag Ernst Sopper & Karl Bauer, 1942) p. 87.

    • Paul D. Sullivan, Boston US says:

      Mr. Osborne,

      First, let me thank you for for your well written posts. They were very enlightening! That being said I think you have a somewhat Sisyphean task in changing some of the mindsets here at SD. Whatever the the opinions here stated here, women (and Asians) seem not to have the problems as you relate in Vienna. Of the BSO musician roster there are 29 females in the Orchestra (mostly in the string section). 10 of the players are Asian (8 women and 2 men). Other orchestras in the Boston area also have many female players, and in U.S. orchestras in general.

      I am certainly not familiar with continental European orchestras, but is this just an Austrian problem or European in general?

      • They are not enlightening at all. Hostory books from 1942 taken as a justification for an interpretation of something which happned this year, is ridicolous. Especially not when there is clear evidence, that in all likelyhood this issue has a lot more to do with musical points than any form of racism.

        The orchestras in question have, for a very long time, not hired women. They do now. Otherwise this Asian female wouldn’t have been handed a trial contract. See this evidence or do you just refuse and keep on that 1940s grudge against the oh-so-bad Nazi people?

        We don’t need women in all companies and all teams and all orchestras. We don’t need multi-kulti in all companies, teams and orchestras. Accept, that not everything on this planet can be streamlined and equalized. Saying this is not supporting discrimination, as our planet should be and large enough to find a spot where the world ticks as you want it to tick – go there and stay there if you can’t accept that the world ticks differently somewhere else.

        • Paul D. Sullivan, Boston US says:

          Dear Mr., Ms. Beni,

          I merely posed a question to Mr. Osborne and stated the facts as I see it in the BSO and most of the orchestras I have seen in my area. I simply asked :

          “I am certainly not familiar with continental European orchestras, but is this just an Austrian problem or European in general?”

          How on earth did you turn my post into having (your quote) “See this evidence or do you just refuse and keep on that 1940s grudge against the oh-so-bad Nazi people?” Where did I mention Nazis!? You merely used my statement as an Indirect way of attacking Mr. Osborne’s posts.

          “We don’t need women in all companies and all teams and all orchestras.”

          This strikes me as an amazingly parochial and misogynistic statement.

          “Accept, that not everything on this planet can be streamlined and equalized”

          This is just kind of depressing (as far as “equalized” goes).

          “-go there and stay there if you can’t accept that the world ticks differently somewhere else.”

          An amazing xenophobic remark indeed. I don’t see anywhere in my post where I threatened to come to Austria or wherever your from. Unlike you, I have posted my full name and where I live, whereas you hide under a pseudonym as you troll this thread.


          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Hey Paul,
            I am from Germany but I have lived and worked in your city for a number of years and I have a great work relationship with my employers. I suspect that’s not just because of the professional skills they hired me for but also because I successfully adapted to the working culture which in some respects is quite different from where I am from. For example, in Germany it is quite OK to have a little beer at lunch time, but in America, that’s generally a big no-no. So I don’t have a little beer at lunch time. Just one small example. And, of course, I also speak the local language. If the work relationship hadn’t worked out because I had failed to adapt to the local ways of doing things, would you also say that must be a sign of “amazing xenophobia” directed against me?

            Also, you must have noticed that while the BSO indeed has a number of Asian and Asian-American members, they have only one single African-American musician – while that demography is significantly larger in the native US population than that of Asian-Americans.

            Also, please be aware that your country ranks two places *behind* Austria in the Global Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum, just ahead of Mozambique and Burundi. So things aren’t always as they seem when you judge from afar. It is true you didn’t talk about Nazi stuff but you applauded Osborne who does that at any given opportunity, so the suspicion here is that you uncritically bought what he said because it confirmed prejudices you have against a foreign country you really know very little about.

          • In reality, Mr. Schaffer’s obsessively ethnocentric perspectives and rationalizations combined with insistent assertions about his country’s superiority are ironic examples of what foreigners like Ms. Choi can experience in Vienna.

  33. Floreta Labis says:

    Dear people ,if this is what’s going on in a orchestra imagine how “cooked” are the results in a competition.
    It is difficult job to be a musician .You have to expect mental and physical endurance.
    Ugly world!!!!!

  34. Novagerio says:

    Now, regarding the disturbing arrogance of mr. Beaumont: “Generalization” and “Generalisation” are both correct; the one is the american spelling and the other one the british. However, Generalization IS the correct answer no matter where you are!

  35. There is, unfortunately, tremendous discrimination against US & US-trained musicians in most parts of Europe.
    There’s also an unspoken, but very noticeable prejudice against Asian players in many areas of Europe as well. Female principals of any nationality are still rather scarce. Jasmine had 3 strikes against her before she began in Vienna.

    As a female, US non-Asian Principal working in Europe who DID pass my 1 yr. trial (yes, the trial period is standard), I can attest to the discrimination that might have worked against Jasmine. Americans are not esp. welcome in European orchs.

    The US has extended the welcome mat for foreign players in top, high paying positions in US orchs. but Europe is not willing to reciprocate, it seems. US players are often held to higher artistic standards than local players. Perhaps Europeans should take a closer look at how many foreign players are displacing qualified US orch. players in our own country & reconsider their prejudices.

    I must say, thought, that I don’t think Jasmine played her trial period wisely. You keep your head down, blend in, do your job & don’t call attn. to yourself. Jasmine behaved like a typical young American – splashing herself all over social media, recording, calling undue attn. to herself. She didn’t realize the seriousness of a TRIAL PERIOD, IMHO. She’s young & didn’t understand this. Her artistry is not the issue.

    Vienna’s loss is Cincinnati’s gain. I hope that she returns to her Asst. Princ. position w/that orch. wiser, but with her self-esteem and artistic integrity intact. She’s a fine player who’s experienced a harsh cultural lesson.

    • anonymous says:

      You are saying “There is, unfortunately, tremendous discrimination against US & US-trained musicians in most parts of Europe.” Then explain please how Bernstein, Maazel, Menuhin, Perriah, Jessy Norman, Thomas Hampton etc.- all born and educated in US were(are) enthusiastically received in Europe.

      • Dear Anonymous:

        1. The artists you’ve mentioned are not orchestral players, they are international soloists & conductors. They have (or had) international representation & their contraction does not depend on personal tastes & biases of individual orchestra members, as was the case with Jasmine Choi.

        2. The artists you mention are of an older generation. They are dead or not touring much or at all now or had their start in Europe many years ago. Who knows NOW what the initial reaction was in Europe when they 1st performed? Time often smooths over & erases such ugliness..

        My only 1st hand experience with any of the artists you name has been with Jessye Norman about 2 yrs. ago. She canceled all but 2 perfomances in the EU country where I work after arriving in each of the cities. Apparently she was not pleased with the way she was treated. She DID perform in my city, & was criticized for her eccentricities & much more, despite singing splendidly. I would not call it an “enthusiastic reception”.

        3. As an American working in an EU orchestra I have personally accompanied many internationally known US artists. I have seen 1st hand the discrimination – the Eastern block & old school Europeans who feel that they hold a monopoly on the interpretation of European classical music and that Asians shouldn’t even attempt it. I have bowed my head in shame to see and hear colleagues & audience members berate Sarah Chang, a superb artist, with absurd criticisms, all based in the fact that she is Asian American.

        Or the wonderful and gracious Renee Fleming criticised for being a product of “American marketing”. The list goes on and on. These are US soloists, with established international careers. Most US or US trained orchestral players who try to work in Europe, like Jasmine Choi, stand even less of a chance of being accepted, esp. when the vote comes directly from orchestra members.

        I agree that there is still tremendous bias against US and US trained players in many parts of Europe. Even more bias against Asians, especially from older and Eastern block Europeans. I have seen it, I have lived it. I hope the Jasmine Choi case opens a few eyes & some very closed minds who are not even aware that they are bigots.

        4. And P.S. Just for the record, Maazel was born in France.

        • Don’t forget all the positive reviews Sarah Chang and Renee Fleming get in Europe. It is unfair to to most Europeans, if you single out the few crazy statements you mention.

          • @Beni: These are 1st hand accounts and justify the claims of prejudice against Americans and Asians. It exists, period. Would you like some more examples? There are plenty.

  36. I think Choi’s reaction is based on her ‘own’ perception.
    I, also a Korean male, have studied in Vienna for 3 years twenty years ago. I’ve not experienced any sort of racism seriously. Let me quote some notable example how Music circle in Vienna as a whole is not a theater for the racist. In 2006, the pianist chosen to play with WPO for the historical concert to commemorate Mozart’s 250th Anniversary, was Uchida, Japanese woman pianist. How come? There must have been many Austiran-German pianists available! How could Seiji Ozawa bacome a director of Vienna Opera House? As far as I saw, they are not anti-American either, Bernstein(he is a Jew) made very, very frequent appearances in Vienna, so did Jessy Norman, Thomas Hampton etc.

    • The Vienna State Opera Orchestra did not pick Ozawa as the GMD. He was selected by the former Director of the house, Ioan Holender, who is Jewish and who has done extensive work against xenophobia in Austria.

      Regarding the Japanese pianist, the Vienna Phil has found it beneficial to consciously use outside guests to rehabilitate the orchestra’s public image, while at the same time quietly denying rank and file membership to women and racial minorities. This has been an effective public relations tool for resisting change, and fits with sociological models which suggest that isocratic groups form controlled relationships with outsiders to mutually enhance their image and status.

      • Mr. Osborne wrote:
        “The Vienna State Opera Orchestra did not pick Ozawa as the GMD. He was selected by the former Director of the house, Ioan Holender, who is Jewish and who has done extensive work against xenophobia in Austria.”

        The facts:
        Ioan Holender is a Romanian refugee, who flew to Austria. The present Director of the Vienna State Opera, Dominique Meyer, stems from France.
        Ozawa, the former GMD, is Japanese. His predecessor, Abbado, is Italian.
        In your opinion, this should be an expression of general xenophobia in Austria?!?

        In contrast to your claims, let’s face the facts of the UN refugee agency:

        VPO don’t have GMDs anymore, but VSO have.
        Let’s have a look at their GMDs since the 1980s:

        Gennadi Roschdestwenski (1980–82), Russian
        Georges Prêtre (1986–91), French
        Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (1991–96), Spanish
        Wladimir Fedossejew (1997–2004), Russian
        Fabio Luisi (2005-2013), Italian

        In your opinion, this should be an expression of general xenophobia or racism?!?

        Your arguments, Mr. Osborne, are ridiculous!
        In my humble opinion, your main motives seem to be: To take revenge on Austrian or German musicians/orchestras/institutions, to take revenge for something that happened decades ago to a woman in Munich. In order to achieve your goals, you grab various details, you merge them in your brain “could I somehow mix and reinterprete these details to accuse Austrians/Germans of racism/sexism/xenophobia?”. Neglecting and letting aside all those facts of reality, that could do harm to your strategy. Completely biased. This, Mr. Osborne, is not honest.

        In 2013, you grab articles from the 1940s. In order to underpin your intentions, you seem to imagine “oh, in my brain, the racisms in German countries of the 1940s could have persisted till today”, then you argue publicly “oh, the racism in German countries of the 1940s could have persisted till today, I could imagine it. There must be xenophobia and racism.”

        You argue by remote diagnosis. Far away of Vienna, you appoint yourself to tell the world – by using your telepathy gifts – what’s going on in the city, how people behave, how political issues are discussed and solved here.
        However, the facts are: You are far away and you have absolutely no idea, what’s really going on in Vienna these days.

        Because you are that disconnected from Vienna, I call your actions a “campaign”.

        One of your goals seems to be, that in every strategic decision, every orchestra manager and every orchestra in German speaking countries should absolutely face the scenario, that an independent democratic decision of the orchestra could perhaps disturb Mr. Osborne’s will and perhaps result in a media campaign of Mr. Osborne against the orchestra (or even against the whole country).

        IMO, you cannot content yourself with the fact, that European orchestras, European countries, European people behave and act differently than those in the U.S. You wanna force them to act American. However, the European way of life differs from life in the U.S. That’s a lesson, YOU have to learn. But you seem to be unconvicible, obstinate, and unregenerate. That’s my personal impression of your contributions.

        • The VPO and VSO have the lowest and second lowest ratios of women in the world. Their representation of Asians is also considerably below international norms which compounds the problems Ms. Choi faced. These are my concerns and those of many others — especially since some members of the VSO report that she face discrimination. The leadership of the Staatsoper and the GMDs of the VSO reflect the international nature of classical music. Let us hope that the employment practices of the Philharmonic and Symphoniker will follow these trends.

          I mentioned events from the 1940s to create historical contexts — as is obvious. My many reports focus on the current status of women and minorities in orchestras.

          As a personal aside, “Austrian’s” response illustrates the animosity my wife and I often face for our activism for women in orchestras. It has caused problems for us, but when we see that there are now 11 women in the Staatsoper Orchestra, whose members are tenured into the Philharmonic, we know the struggle has been worthwhile.

          • Mr Osborne:

            Despite whatever hardships you and your wife may come across, please know that there are people like me (in fact, many,) who are ever grateful for your research and activism.


        • Austrian, you also have no idea: you, I assume, are white and possibly male. You are in no state to understand what Asian females might go through in an Austrian orchestra. I’m afraid you sound uncannily similar to those white male politicians making abortion laws in the US.

          • Anon:
            I’m well connected with Asian musicians and Asian students in Vienna. I’ve already mentioned several problems concerning grants, visa, working permissions, permanent residency, etc. Some of my closest Asian friends had to return to their home country due to some of these reasons. Believe me, that I’m not happy about this.
            As far as orchestras are concerned, I disagree with your claim that there were a specific “anti-Asian” spirit in Viennese orchestras. An orchestra too suffers from all those human conflicts that can be found in every company. You won’t improve anything by generally calling every Viennese orchestra “racist, sexist, xenophobic”. Aside from the fact, that such accusations completely miss the point, such accusations also obstruct the focus on the real tangible problems.

  37. I personally know a flutist who applied last year for this position at VSO. He is a totally outstanding flutist, male, european, raised in Italy and France, playing already in a French orchestra: he wasn’t even invited to take part to the competition that Ms Choi won. So what? EU self-racism? What else? He didn’t cause any polemic, with articles here and there. He just accepted that “that’s life”. He going on on his way and looking for the next possibility

  38. MKa: let’s clarify this again. Jasmine Choi did not cause this polemic. The topic was initiated by Mr. Lebrecht, who has been following this situation and that of the VPO for some time now. He was keeping his readers informed as to the latest events. Jasmine Choi simply responded to what had been written, which was appropriate and courteous. It is Mr. Lebrecht’s readers themselves who are in a frenzy over this. Jasmine is now quietly going about her life. This is not her doing.

    • Dear Michael, I, as a Korean, would like to tell you what you may not know because you are not here in Korea. About 3 days ago, Jasmine’s younger brother posted a ‘inflammatory’ notes(of course in Korean) to tell the reader how unfair and reprehensible VSO’s firing of his sister’s is. It is still being circulated. The point is she was fired only because of sexism, racism, and no European educational background. And he ends saying we Koreans should stand up against this imjust widely. If you are saying she is not resposible with this controversy and it’s only a work of one English journalist, it is wrong.
      Now looking back, there is one thing she should have avoided. When she passed though the audition a year ago, there was much publicity in Korea. Many foremost medias here brodcasted Jasmine was ‘appointed’ – technically, she was not. I think she should have waied silently until she passed through trial period and secures tenure. Maybe she was too confident in getthing through the trial period? I don’t know. I think it would be good to her if she now learned the lesson of how important restrain and prudence is in life.

      • Dear Musikant,
        You don’t state what else her brother wrote. I saw this note. It says what treatment she received from her co-workers. I don’t want to blab it here because it is not confirmed, but i would like to point out that you are giving partial information.

        • Can you point out where the note is?

          • It’s floating around on Facebook but it’s in Korean. I believe some bloggers have copied it to their site so it should be searchable.

        • Dear Anon
          I assume you are a Korean. Aren’t you? What do you mean by ‘partial information’? You seem to indicate I manipulate. How? Do you think I have to narrate here all the details of what Jasmine’s brother said? What I have to do is just summarize for the readers. That is – Jasmine suffers injustly from racism and sexism and non-European educational background. Do not play foul with just wording.

          • Yes, Musikant, do not play foul with wording. Because you state what her brother wrote (her accusations of sexism and racism in the orchestra) without mentioning why she says this, it is partial. Exactly as partial as whoever it was who leaked the story to SD, wreaked havoc, and then conveniently disappeared.

            Also as Michaela says, the timeline that you provide does not confirm that her brother started this ordeal.

            Happy Independence Day.

      • Dear Musikant,

        Jasmine’s brother is only harming her case. It is childish and unprofessional and inappropriate for him to speak publicly on this issue. Musicians of every race & nationality do not pass their trials on a regular basis. What makes you think that Koreans are being discriminated against here?

        Furthermore, please check your dates. If Jasmine’s brother posted about this issue just 3 days ago, it was a good week after Mr. Lebrecht brought the situation to international attention. The brother, like Jasmine, is essentially RESPONDING to the polemic which Mr. Lebrecht began.

        I was defending Jasmine’s professional integrity in my previous post by pointing out that she did not initiate this polemic. It would be completely inappropriate for any musician of any race to begin a public controversy about not passing their trial. VERY bad taste. And what orchestra would ever want to offer them a trial in the future?

        If Jasmine has, as you claim, started all of this, I wish her lots of luck. She’s effectively sabatoged her own career. No orchestra wants this publicity, any manager would be reluctant to hire her knowing that if something goes wrong she’d go complaining to the press.

        The whole situation does, indeed, reflect a lack of understanding about orchestral hiring practices. It would be rare for a player to be “appointed” to a Principal position without a trial or trial period. Surely Koreans must understand this.

        Finally, lets take a look at a recent example of another case of a Principal Flute in a major US orch. who ALSO did not pass his 1 yr. trial, how he behaved, and where he is now.

        DAVID BUCK was the highly respected Principal Flute of the Oregon Symph. He took the audition for LA Phil Principal Flute, won the job, and was heralded in the media as Dudamel’s new star flute. He completed his one year trial with LA & was not given the job in exactly the same scenario as Jasmine.

        What did David Buck do? He wasted no time, did not respond to any of the press comments questioning the decision & took the next available audition. He won Principal Flute in another major US orch., the Detroit Symphony perhaps a month after the LA season ended. It was a seamless transition. He’d won Detroit before most people even realized he hadn’t passed his trial in LA. This time it appears to be a perfect fit & Mr. Buck is now in Detroit permanently. That, my friends, is how it’s done.

        • Dear Michaela. we may disagree on many issues concering Jasmine’s case. But there might be a big misunderstanding. You are saying to me “What makes you think that Koreans are being discriminated against here?” Your question seems to say I, a Korean, share Jasmine;s view that Koreans are being discriminated. ON THE CONTRARY! I do not share even a hair bit with Jasmine’s opinion. I rather denounce her for tarnishing the image of Korea
          I mentioned of the deed of Jasmine’s brother only to let you(and others) know how ridiculous his behaviour is. In fact, there are far, far more criticisms against his behaviour than sympathies among the Korean internet visitors.

          I repeat again – The first mistake she made is the fact that she has done so much publicity in Korea during the last one year behaving as if she is already an appointed member of VSO. Now I see how much she feels embarrassed. Sorry! But her embarrasment is her own making.

          • Dear Musikant,

            I am relieved to read your message! I agree with you wholeheartedly!

            Jasmine’s attention-grabbing, media-provoking behavior before she’d passed her trial period was inappropriate. It wasn’t just in Korea that she did this, she also did quite a bit of publicity in the US as well. This wouldn’t have been appropriate during a trial period in a US orchestra & it was even more inappropriate in a conservative European city like Vienna.

            In the US, she was endorsing products, posting videos and lots of pictures publicly about herself, and more, all calling attn. to herself during her trial period. I’m not sure what her strategy was – very few orchestral players of the highest level do this type of self-promotion even AFTER being named permanent members of their orchestra. It’s pretty tacky. For this reason I believe that she is quite naïve.

            Hopefully, as you say, she’s learned from this. Thank you for your interesting comments, Musikant.

        • Don Stein says:

          Exact same scenario. LOL

          • To Don – ok, point taken, but I don’t think either case was based entirely on the player’s musicianship and for that reason the scenarios are at least similar. You have to admit that LA Phil has been ripping thru flute players lately. I don’t think it’s all about how they play.

    • Dear Michaela, the situation is very clear and your explanation, I’m sorry, is unnecessary, because it’s enough to read Ms Choi’s own reply: she talks explicitly about sexism and racism, without having any concrete proof. She even says that she has been the second case of trial year failure in the entire history of the orchestra! Now, after having read Mr Neubert’s reply concerning the cases of musicians who failed their trial year in the last 20 years (not 113…), everyone immediately realizes that her credibility is less than zero. No one should be allowed to shoot such heavy accusations and to discredit someone else’s reputation without having precise facts and real accusations. I think that it’s shameful to transform an ordinary procedure into a drama: sometimes it’s better to just accept the life’s happenings, to keep the dignity and to meditate on what happened and why, without any easy sensationalism.

      • Dear MKa,

        Please read Ms. Choi’s response more carefully. She states only what she has been told by her colleagues – ” 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”. This is not her credibility in question, it’s what SHE WAS TOLD, and she makes this very clear. Also note that the reference she makes to racism and sexism arises from comments made to her by colleagues during her trial year and during “open meetings” with colleagues. She is accusing no one, she is repeating what what was said to her.

        Furthermore, again I reiterate: Jasmine Choi did not initiate this polemic. It was started by Mr. Lebrecht himself. She responded, just as her orchestra’s manager has responded. The manager has commented twice now. Jasmine has had the good sense to remain silent after her 1st response.

        This is not a drama created by Jasmine Choi. She did not start this. It is you, MKa who are accusing her falsely & villainizing her here. I am afraid you’ve completely misunderstood how this frenzy of media coverage & reader comments came about.. Had Mr. Lebrecht not written about her situation, I’m sure she would have gone quietly about her business, as most players do after not winning trials.

        Jasmine’s situation makes for eye-catching, sensational headlines. Readers are drawn in, as we have been, and often don’t fully understand the story. Jasmine herself was drawn in, hence her response. Jasmine’s only error here has been her extreme naivite.

        I’ve watched your comments with interest about Jasmine, MKa, and since they run the gamut from criticisms of her musicianship to judgements about her credibility & disapproval of how you feel she’s behaved in this situation it appears to me that you just don’t like Jasmine Choi very much. You don’t seem to want to understand that she did not create this drama.

        Perhaps it’s because your friend was not invited to the finals and Jasmine was. Who knows? I also have friends who are fine flutists who were not accepted at that audition. We all know that the world of professional flute playing is highly competitive and as you say, you get over it. With all due respect, that would be my advice to you in this case, MKa.

        • Ms Choi replied personally only once, but you reply for her to every single comment concerning her! And yes, after having heard her playing, I was very surprised when she won the selection last year and not surprised at all when I heard that she failed her trial year. With all my respect

          • Correction, MKa,

            I reply to YOUR comments about Jasmine Choi, because I do not agree with your interpretation of the events. BIG difference. Let’s agree to disagree and leave it at that. Respectfully yours.

  39. Adrianne greenbaum says:

    This is not “just life” as poster states. And if it is, that “life” should not continue. Orchestra managements worldwide are hiding behind their own truths. And those “truths” are the necessary fabricated lies so that they can continue to have jobs. If everyone knew the truth of the many musicians who were fired, dismissed – call it whatever you want to hide behind – these folks wouldn’t HAVE jobs. They have jobs because of the fine musicians in their orchestras. My former orchestra of 37 respected years, The New Haven Symphony, ended my tenure over scandal from which they couldn’t climb out. The musicians in all orchestras, will vote negative if it means saving their jobs. The VSO will continue to portray this voting as the real deal. Once I was fired, everyone ran in the opposite direction to save their own butts. Conductor is a known racist and bigot (all you needed to do was come to any rehearsal and hear him blurt something inappropriate, the last one said to a crowd of young 10 year old students that a composer gets ideas by taking drugs…), off-hand comments about Jews and Asians, sexual misconduct and more, yet the management and board of directors are either too lazy, blind or busy to fire him. So, to cover, they lie about the musicians and then their colleagues can’t stand up on their two feet with their vote and on it goes. “Luckily” I won a monetary lawsuit and the firing came off the table and i retired instead, all because they were finally fearful that some truth might be revealed if we went public.

    After listening to Jasmine many times, I cannot abide by some sort of musical reasoning behind her quick stay and ultimate dismissal. The Big Folk win. The public never gets to know unless we who have been unjustly dealt with speak out. As a colleague of mine in another symphony warned: you will now be shunned by those who were your closest colleagues who respected your every note or word. He was fired the day after he helped the conductor put his pages of a score together in numerical order after the conductor kept screaming at the cello section for not playing what he had, never mind that the music made no sense. The embarrassment was too much for the conductor. Principal Flute for 35 plus years. Over. Throw him out with garbage.

    Anyone naive enough to believe that Ms Choi deserved to be so quickly discarded needs to wake up. And it’s about music, not a simple job-loss situation.

    • If heared, seen and read enough of her to believe there are good reasons of why her contract was not extented. I have also heared, seen and read enough of her to believe she’ll find another job elsewhere very soon.

      Although, due to her dragging this issue needlessly into public she’ll now have less suitors than before. I called 3 orchestras today and announced the end of my company’s or my support for them, if they hire this musician who publicly denounces her former employer wthout clear proof.

      • Good grief, Beni! Who is acting like a little girl now? This DOES remind me of kindergarten! You called three orchestras to threaten them, on the basis of a third party writing to a blog (yes, a blog and not a major newspaper company) and the supposed victim commenting on it. (The swashbuckling has mostly been done by the supporters of both parties, and not by the parties themselves.) A bit ripe and macho, my friend!

        • Agree, Anon. I am getting a little tired of “Beni”, who is evidently a very opinionated aficionado, not a music professional, arguing with every single person who expresses a strong opinion on this matter, without much knowledge or experience in the professional music world to back it up. It appears that Beni simply enjoys having the last word and seeing it in print. Enough, already. We are feeding the troll here.
          Let Jasmine carry on with her life.

          Perhaps we should concentrate our attentions now on a Vienna flutist who is still undergoing her trial: KAREN BONELLI, the 1st woman to be considered for the flute section of the Vienna Philharmonic. Ms. Bonelli plays magnificently, won the VPO 2nd flute postion over 100+ candidates and is currently doing her trial period with Vienna Staatsopera. Will SHE get tenure? Let’s keep our eyes open. She’s playing her cards very differently than Ms. Choi. She’s from Vienna, studied there, does not appear in the press, she quietly blends in and does her job and keeps a very low profile. If she is granted tenure, it will be historic. And it will be an interesting case to observe. . .

        • Third party? She went public herself supporting the ridicolous claims. I have read no word of here stating that she made mistakes or might not have been the right fit. I don’t need to finance the life of such people. If others want to step in, they shall be free to do so. My workdforce and I work too hard for our money to give it away to such traitors.

          • Beni. Dear Beni. It’s more than possible that she DIDN’T make any mistakes, and frankly, she DOES say that she was not the right fit. And please stop referring to yourself as if you can lift and fall the world with ‘your money’, it’s really obnoxious. If you COULD lift and fall the world with your money, it’s doubly obnoxious.

    • Adrianne-

      I’ve just read an interesting article from the NY Times Archives in which you were one of three featured musicians. (URL is: ). Your comments in it about the leadership role of the principal flutist and the protocol surrounding the position, at least as it applied to the Cleveland Orchestra which you cited, and other orchestras in which you served, may provide some additional clues as to why the VPO members voted against granting tenure to Ms. Choi.

      Also, the William Tell Overture clip does reveal clear stylistic differences in phrasing and in the transitions one to the other of the respective soloists. (I almost thought her style and sound, in that clip at least, was more Chicago than Vienna.) Every orchestra has its sound, style, culture and protocol, and, like notions of “human rights” and “democracy”, there are bound to be differences. For whatever reason, in the end, the orchestra members voted not to retain her, so it does not appear to have been a top down decision.

      None of this detracts from the fact that she is an excellent (and creative) player who is lucky to be young enough to have many more years to make beautiful music and carve out a fine career as a player and teacher, as you did for yourself. (P.S.- I have friends at Mt. Holyoke, so I have better appreciation of your contribution.)

  40. Jasmine Choi was not discarded. She did not pass her trial year. That’s a big difference.

  41. Steffano Castellanos says:

    My good woman! I hope they feel remorse but as I know these Europeans of Germanic – Nordic extracts – they do not know that part of humanity. So I hope they rot in hell.

    • Mr Oakmountain says:

      “… Europeans of Germanic – Nordic extracts – they do not know that part of humanity”. Now, who’s the racist?

    • Wow, what a rassistic statement.

      Why is such racism tolerated here, while alleged – and in this article, if existing, probably mariginal – racism is ciriticised? Don’t we measure with the same scales here?

  42. Hassan Zanjirani Farahani says:

    The migrants should inform themselves about the circumstances before the immigration. We don’t know enything about her language skills (german), relations and contacts which are very important. I personally believe, austria has a good level for classical music and has enough good musicians (specially flutists). The life quality in austria is much more better than a lot of countries, because of that some musicians choose this country for their career, but it follows the unemployment for austrians and other europeans. Their governments should find a solution to solve the problem of unemployment for the musician, who have studied with the financial help of government. (Tution fees: 726 euros per semester for state universities and 304 euros for private universities plus scholarships. The fees are not even comparable with english speaking countries) They should somehow get back these financial helps and of course they must guarantee the life quality of the people, who have paid tax in austria and other european union countries. However I think some of these claims are out of law and risky, because she don’t have enough reasons to demonstrate them.

  43. Shame on you Vienna Orchestra. Music is supposed to be unbiased and it is one of few media that can penetrate peoples heart without cultural and language barriers. But what VIenna ORchestra did to Jasmine Choi and the other Japanese musician is compeletely against what music is supposed to be. It is a big shame indeed.

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      Are you in possession of all the facts? You certainly seem to think you are.

    • Is music supposed to be like this: Once an Asian female gets a trial contract, she has to get a permanent deal after the trial, even if the majority of the orchestra wish not to renew the contract?

      The reality is: She got her chance to prove herself for a year, but failed to convince the orchestra enough to make them give her a permanent contract. And some the reasons for this can be heared and seen (i.e. the Tell video), other reason can be read (i.e. her public statement).

  44. VSO and Vienna music circle as a whole is sex-biased? I don’t know. But one thing is certain: Debate on sexism in Vienna is not appropriate in connection with Choi’s case. Why? According to her ‘own’ account, during the trial year she has been persistently harrassed particularly by one VSO member who happens to be a woman. In her account. she does not mention of any other member, – only the lady sitting just next to her in orchestra. Do you call a female persecution of another female gender discrimination?

  45. Theodore McGuiver says:

    So are we to deduce from many of these posts that minority musicians should have a divine right to any post they apply for because they are minorities? There appear to be a lot of people out there who really do think that two wrongs do make a right.

    • The answer to your question should be. “NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”.

      Unfortunately some try to get minorities to profit by constantly claiming discrimination. As I stated earlier here, I recently had a woman applying for a job and she claimed, she should get the job because only few female work in that part of our organization. She should get the job, because she will work hard and be an excellent asset – not because she’s of a different sex.

  46. Passer-by says:

    I wonder why Mozart was persecuted, Schubert ignored, Hugo Wolf ridiculed during their lifetime – they are all Austrian!!! What if they were minoirties? Then, all the world today would have cited it as a classical example of racism. So, as to Jasmine’s case, let us think twice whether racism is the main cause behind her present predicament.

    • It seems to me Mozart was demonized even during his lifetime because he was different and presented a threat. In person, he was considered obnoxious because he didn’t ‘fit in’, even though he had a better understanding of music than others and was simply doing his best. So I don’t know if Mozart’s experience fits the logic of your arguement…

      • Don Stein says:

        In an effed up world, many talented people are going to suffer.

        • True, but Mozart was ganged up on and sabotaged from the time he was a teenager. And, of course, he didn’t live all that long, and the injustices may have contributed to that. So I think of his as a more extreme case.

      • Passer-by says:

        My arguement is as follows
        As you say(as everyone knows), Mozart was rejected because he was a super-talent thus threatening other musicians. Besides, his personality was disgusting to everyone. It is not surprising if Mozart were active today, he would have been still rejected like in his day, for jealousy is a basic human nature. I do not know Jasmine’s leaving VSO has something to do with racism. It might be her outstanding talent or personality that may have caused her rejection IN THE FIRST PLACE,. Then some people might add … look! she is an Asian!!!…. Well that also may have been another reason for rejection.. But she would have been rejected anyway even if she is an Austrian..
        I hope my arguement is clear to Pamela.

        • Thank you, I think you have made your case clear, but have misunderstood my point. It is my position in regards to Mozart, which is that he had a different energy from other composers, and as a result, created differently. He seemed to do effortlessly what they struggled with. He held multiple pieces of music in his head at one time and just needed to find a quiet spot — or not– to jot them down. There was nothing Mozart could do about his being different, and everybody just hated him as a result. He could do no right. Even if he had been better at schmoozing and sucking up to people, they still would have detested him. In Mozart’s case, it is this difference in evergy, still left in his music, that is called the “Mozart Effect”. It was a perfect gift — perfect in the way a perfect fourth or fifth is perfect, whereas a minor or major sixth is not. It didn’t matter what his nationality was. It so happened he was Austrian.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Except that it so happened that he wasn’t Austrian. During his lifetime, Salzburg was not a part of Austria. I know you couldn’t have known that because that wasn’t mentioned in “Amadeus” from where it seems you guys got all you know about Mozart. Like with any other successful artist, obviously there were people who were envious of his abilities or who disliked him personally. But on the whole, he was highly successful in Vienna. He earned a lot more money than most other musicians and lived a very comfortable lifestyle. Unfortunately, it seems that he wasn’t good at handling money and that he also had a little gambling problem. But that doesn’t change the fact that he was one of the most famous and highly regarded musicians of the period. The whole “Mozart died misunderstood and forgotten” thing is just nonsense.

  47. About taking part in auditions in general.

    Taking part in an audition means you have to accept some rules.
    The rules are made by the orchestra and not by the participant.
    Whatever comes out at the end, you have to accept – everything
    else is unprofessional.

    Sometimes musicians believe, that in the process of
    getting a job (audition, trial etc.) and then maybe at the end not getting this job,
    something went wrong – because (of some reason) they should
    have gotten exactly this job.
    My personal suggestion is : Do not loose energy and time too much
    and find the next chance and take it.

    This something general about auditions.

  48. @Michael Schaffer said,”Except that it so happened that he wasn’t Austrian. During his lifetime, Salzburg was not a part of Austria. I know you couldn’t have known that because that wasn’t mentioned in “Amadeus” from where it seems you guys got all you know about Mozart.”

    If by “you guys” you mean Americans, in this case I hope I can demonstrate that you are mistaken. One of my objectives is to correct the misconceptions of “Amadeus”. That happened to be a US movie, of course, with a MO connection, in that the then conductor SNM, directed the soundtrack of that tasteless movie and was very upset when he couldn’t get an Oscar for it.

    You also said, “Like with any other successful artist, obviously there were people who were envious of his abilities or who disliked him personally. But on the whole, he was highly successful in Vienna. He earned a lot more money than most other musicians and lived a very comfortable lifestyle.”

    That seems a somewhat simplistic statement. He was not ‘highly successful’. He was very much in debt when he died. And, although he worked harder than most other composers, if you look at the number of pieces performed in the length of time he lived, many of which are still considered masterpieces, he didn’t really live very long and certainly did not get to enjoy any financial independence.

    And you just had to add, “Unfortunately, it seems that he wasn’t good at handling money and that he also had a little gambling problem. ” Excuse me? That is straight from Amadeus, and it isn’t the whole truth. He had a wife whom he was doing his best to care for and was intent on keeping the rights to his music. He was very controversial and unpopular, in terms of people stepping up to pave the way for his financial success. He did not seem to schmooze well on that level, and did not have the resources available today to superstars to maximize all of their intellectual properties.

    If you really want to do some homework on Mozart, why not open up his last major opera and find a character with a name similar to Minnesota, and then ask if there could be any connection between that and what is happening at the MO.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Here is some homework for you:

      H.C. Robbins Landon: “Mozart: The Golden Years 1781-1791″
      H.C. Robbins Landon: “1791 – Mozart’s Last Year”
      Volkmar Braunbehrens: “Mozart in Vienna”

      Three meticulously researched books which provide a wealth of fascinating detail insights without losing view of the larger picture. Your idea of Mozart is just as distorted as “Amadeus”.
      And yes, there are strong indications that he had a gambling problem which is why he sometimes had to borrow large sums of money from friends at short notice to settle “debts of honor”. I don’t think the gambling was even mentioned in “Amadeus” though.

      • I own those books, of course, as well as just about everything I can find on Mozart, at least in English and German. I am happy to debate any substantive claim you might make.

        You have not pointed out any cite to substantiate your position, as yet, have you? How are we to know which passage you find most persuasive? I am psychic, but not that good. :-0

        You surely also realize that historians take a point of view and attempt to persuade others to it by their weighing and evaluating of documentation. They were not there. And besides, imo, they tend to fall short, as they miss key elements of what made Mozart different. To that extent, for starters, they tend to disappoint.

        I do stand corrected, however, in that AMADEUS managed to leave out gambling specifically. I have yet to find any primary documentation to support the theory that he did have a problem. In fact, the closest thing I can find is the fact of common knowledge that Puchberg fed Mozart only smallish sums of money. Was gambling the reason why?

        It is not my intent to whitewash Mozart, but to define who he really was, flaws and all, without the lavish doses of libel that tend to color many accounts of his life. Wolf is, of course, the main character of my current project.

        The homework I suggested to you was presented in hopes that you would start to think outside-of-the-box in regards to Wolf. Or not. Your choice.

  49. Jennifer S. says:

    This is a BIG shame on Vienna Symphony. Period.

  50. I am a flute player from Vienna, and can say from the first hand! She played very well at the Audition. One influental person from the orchester was mesmerized by her,and really wanted her to join the Orchester,and convinced the other musicians to give her the Probejahr! But than, she played in her American style, and with all good anvises from the collegues didn’t managed to play in Vienese Style.
    Jasmine will have very nice carrier and she is a sweet person,but there are no conspiracy against her.
    I hope she will admit and accept that she is not the right for this position,and not make the Orchester regret that she gave this an opportunity.

    P.S.- I don’t like either that she immidiately made a CD with the members of the Orchester. That gives the impression like she is lascivious and would do anything to get any higher… Not classy at all!

    • Interesting insight, @Patrick.

      By contrasting the US/Wien styles of playing do you mean ‘loud, grandstanding, not for an ensemble’ style v ‘meld, put the music first’ style?


  51. Well,I studied by the member of the VSO, and he always asked to play very quetly,and with fine silky tone … When you heard VSO or VPO live, you know how quetly the whole Orchester sound(in comparasion with other Europe Orchestras-Americans not to mantion).
    That’s what thay are the best!

  52. She is already 30 years old. She has maybe 3 years from now,to get some new place in the orchester. But,because of her attitude and all the bad things she said about the orchester… there are posibility that no other orchester would want to mess with her….

    What makes me anger, is that she was so fame-,money- and succes hungry and didn’t waited her trial years to pass, but already made the CDs with the members, gave so many interviews,master classes and concerts in Korea, USA just because of the credibility of the Vienna Symphonie Orchester.
    Actually, she representing herself for somebody she is not!
    That can cost her reputation- and that’s very much in classical music world!

    Maybe she felt there will be just one year, and wanted to get everything is possible..

  53. You [redacted: abuse] people have no right to put her down or criticize her. There is no such thing called Viennese flute style, unless it meant to play simply SO BADLY just like the other flute players in VSO who were absolutely jealous at her because they could never be as good as her. Ever!!!!!
    Jasmine Choi at the moment has nothing to lose even without this f***ing VSO. She was already such a big figure in the flute world before she joined the VSO, so it was the VSO who got all the good publicity because of her, not vice versa. She was doing them a BIG favor for a year, and now look at the way she handles it: she’s already won the game. Read every word of what she wrote below.

    And this whole thing only shows that VSO will only stay as a second class orchestra. Imagine how much gain the VSO would have gotten if the result was the opposite. Big loss now.

    I loved Jasmine Choi even when she was a student at Curtis and Juilliard- nobody could ever play like she does. She plays from her soul that nobody can copy and she is the one and only roll model to millions of flutists out there.
    And for her fans all over the world, her title doesn’t matter as long as she continues to play the flute. Only her music stays with us, not the title. So you freakin’ disgusting people, stand away and do your own goddamn thing first.

    Anyways, here’s what she wrote on her facebook on September 1:

    Dear my beloved friends,

    My sincere apology for the deafening silence in the last few weeks. Some life-changing event had happened, but I am now well and strong, and ready for yet another new beginning.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your unfailing support in the difficult time- it meant so much to me receiving your cheering emails and messages, and even many concerts and job offers from all over the world. I truly appreciate for embracing me for who I am as a musician and as a human being, regardless the title. I am the same positive smiley Jasmine you’ve always known, and will be this way in the future.

    Just to give you a quick follow-ups: after being stuck in bed with fever for many days in Bregenz, I was at the The National Flute Association convention(NFA) in New Orleans, which took me some humongous courage to still go there and stand up and start performing again. I played for my late teacher Julius baker’s Memorial Concert as the last student of his, and was almost choking in tears on stage when remembering of him. It was such a special concert that gave me tremendous strength to go on, and I would always treasure those moments deep in my heart. Also how lovely it was to see many hundreds of friends and fans in person, cheering, encouraging, and congratulating me for my new life to come..

    When I came back to Bregenz, many close colleagues of mine from the orchestra greeted me with full arms. I had not known that I made them so heavily concerned and terrified while I was not to be reached for many days not looking at any emails or phone messages. We talked a lot, cried just a bit, and also with some of us we played together in the next several days including some small concerts on this historical ship called Hohentwiel, as well as the showcase concert of my pre-released Mozart CD presentation at this gorgeous castle Deuring Schlössle. Not everyone in the audience was aware of my news with the orchestra, however when we played the slow movement of the D Major quartet as an encore, the entire room was full of people sobbing and wiping off their tears. I was simply so touched beyond the words, realizing again the power of music.

    Then had some relaxing vacation in Switzerland with several friends of mine, hiking in the mountains; swimming next to the waterfalls; chopping some woods with a “real” ax, which I found no talents for this; mowing a lot of lawns, which on the other hand, was quite gifted I was; and eating off some raw fruits and vegetables in the forest, as well as playing the flute alongside the lake under the nightsky with a moonlight and so on- yes, totally surreal everything was. I assume that my music is not to be the same anymore, after inhaling such tremendous nature although only for a short while in my life, and I felt like a piece of dust in this gigantic universe..

    And now just arrived in Korea for another concert in a few days, practicing the Ibert concerto in a complete peace, and having some quality time with my family and friends. Then to the States to teach at Indiana University as guest faculty for a couple of weeks. I will be back in Vienna at the end of September, then to be followed by numerous solo concerto tours with orchestras in Würzburg(Germany), Turku(Finland), Sofia(Bulgaria), Seoul(Korea), Ingolstadt(Germany) and also in Vienna. And the new Mozart CD is to be released on October 11.

    About my experience with the Vienna Symphony (Wiener Symphoniker): the truth is that I had such a fantastic time with them last season from the beginning to the end, just as all of you on Facebook might have already noticed how much I’ve enjoyed and cherished every concert. There are countless wonderful memories of great concerts with them and I had many incredible colleagues who still remained as close friends of mine. I had been extremely happy everyday that I was even terrified, living in the city that I’ve always dreamed of, playing all the prominent concerts in all occasions, and with such nice and friendly (most of them!) colleagues around me. I remember every subscription concerts with those amazing conductors one after the other, the huge easter concert on tv, the phenomenal tour in Japan, many wonderful chamber music concerts with colleagues, playing as a soloist in the opening concert of the Bregenz Festival, making the DVDs of the Magic Flute and the Merchant of Venice, not to mention the recording of the Mozart quartets with the principal string players of the Vienna Symphony. I could not have been more welcomed and celebrated in this orchestra even until the last concert I played with them.

    I do not have any harsh feelings against this orchestra, never had and never will, even though I feel of course very sorry for what had happened. I would like to thank Vienna Symphony for all those incredible experiences with them in the past season, for lifting me up to even better of a musician and a person, and for all those supports, friendships and beliefs in me during the whole year, when acknowledging the difficulties I was going through. And it was from the beginning a big step for this orchestra when the audition committee hired me as their first Korean performer, female principal, who never had any connection with Vienna or Europe, and with one of the highest scores of their audition history- I accept all the unprecedented moves they had for me in the beginning and still appreciate it.

    The way I see it, is that it had nothing to do with sexism as some people speculated, but a lot of jealousy and racism driven from conservativeness. I don’t mind being voted out, because people are free to have their own opinion, and I might as well would rather play with people who appreciate me more. However what I certainly did not enjoy was putting up with an envious colleague in the section who gave me such a hard time all year long, insulting me, embarrassing me, giving me racial comments, and talking behind me in everyday basis in order to buy more people on his/her side to vote me out.

    Such busy activities all year long include holding unofficial meetings where he/she was criticizing me even to the non-musical issues such as my friendly personality he/she didn’t like, my earrings were too long, and I should not hug or hang out or perform outside with colleagues in my trial year and on. Also there were many efforts from his/her side trying to change the rules in the orchestra in order to get me out, or even to give me yet another trial year. Although to my naivety, I had always ignored it all because I just did not expect that some people would really listen to him/her in the end. I only wish those kind of unhealthy acts should not be allowed in any of the orchestras or any job places in the world, and also I hope Vienna Symphony to launch a better way of voting system in the future, perhaps starting with not to put the voting box laying around in the hallway unguarded for 10 full days.

    It saddens me because this orchestra now brought down their own reputation, which only started by a few conservative people, nonetheless there are yet many more people in the orchestra with great openness and enthusiasm to just play well and make some good music.

    Now that I’m thinking all back, those unpleasant news have become only some little things in life, especially when I consider of how blessed I am with everything else I got. It was a much harder of an experience for me ten years ago, when I was not able to play at all for half a year because of a physical illness. My life has been a miracle since then, with a flute in my hands everyday. I am grateful as long as I can express myself through my playing and to be surrounded by good friends like you wherever I go.

    May I ask of you for your continuous support, and I look forward to sharing more beautiful music with you all. Life is still very nice!


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