Brazil – latest on the musician sackings

Brazil – latest on the musician sackings


norman lebrecht

March 31, 2011

I have received an email from Deborah Cheyne, a viola player in the OSB and president of the Sindicato dos Músicos Profissionais do Rio de Janeiro, clarifying the latest situation. She was writing also on behalf of Luzer Machtyngier, president of the OSB musicians.

Here’s what Deborah has to say:

On Monday, we had a final round of negotiation. Prior to it, we attended a call
from the Ministry of Labour to sit in a round table with the ministry’s
mediator, where a proposal was offered. The employer’s side did not show

The proposal was, to review the performance evaluation test with the
collaboration of the Ministery of Labour. This was a personal proposal of the
Minister, and the FOSB declined it.

Later this day, a informal and definitive
negotiation happened between Union and FOSB.
The FOSB offered a “plan of
voluntary dismissal” and the musicians refused it, believing that this plan only
transfers the onus of dismissing such a large number of

On Tuesday, the management called and/or communicated by e-mail,
31 musicians to attend to the office next day. Two of them attended the call
and they were communicated about their dismissal. The other 29 did not
appear. Which does not mean that they will not be fired, it is just a matter or

Nine musicians received a statement to attend a re-scheduled audition,
since they were on medical license before. Four musicians did not receive any
communication at all till this moment. Calculating, this means 44 musicians.
At this moment 31 will be soon or later be dismissed for sure.

To my European eyes, this kind of confrontation management belongs to a very dark and distant era.


  • Petrous Madaleno says:

    I am using a fake name here and I am one of those that was dismissed. What Mrs. Deborah has to say now? She got everybody in a situation that is a point of no return. We had many opportunities for conciliation and she advised us to decline, afirming that we can get more than that.
    We are not happy with the results and I fully blame the union and the commission for this terrible end. We warned her to be more flexible and to accept and make some concessions but she denied.
    Now we have an issue with the labor law, which has nothing to do with our artistic side, how I will handle that? I am a musician, close to my retirement. So far, I haven’t heard anything concrete and positive from the union, it looks like we all got screwed up by the union, in the person of Mr. Deborah and then by the commission, leaded by a retired physician, looks like a joke but this is sad reality.

  • gildemaro says:

    If conductors would get a medal for every musician they fire, I know a guy who could be wearing Idi Amin Dada’s uniform right now…I hope only it’s not too big for him!

  • harold emert says:

    Maestro Karabtchevsky(Maestro of OSB for 30 years and current director-Maestro of Petrobras Orchestra)”In respect to the OSB crisis,-everything is wrong ,There have been violations of the tradition of the OSB,which always respected dialogue and good sense. It was an error of evaluating how to deal with the problems. In my 50 year career,I was never found the necessity to conduct a collective re-evaluation of an orchestra” from Rio’s O Globo newspaper on Friday,1 April 2011

  • Madalena says:

    Dear Petrolina Madalena! if you realy were fired, as your fake depoiment says, you would not have the courage of speak those kind of words. please respect and use this space on this blog to say the true. do not try to defame Deborah because you will not get it. She have been marvelous on this process and gave her life to fight for this cause and all the musicians of rio de janeiro, even those who did not followed the sames ideas of the union of musicians is proud of what she did.Next time think before writng.

  • I can’t stop wondering about the potencialities of a cell phone symphony amidst Musorgsky’s promenading by L’Hermitage, at the opening of the season of Young OSB advertised and sold as being the true OSB…
    What do you thing about that, Helga Borsztch ?

  • Eduardo Dias Filho says:

    Dear Madaleno and Madalena,
    Blaming the union and the commission alone for this mess is dangerous. The OSB administration conducted a clockwork-process-bomb – bad planning, bad execution, violent. But the union and the commission, innocently or not, willingly or not, played along. Mrs. Cheyne, as president of the union, has her employment guaranteed by law – she cannot be fired. Will she quit? What will she do?
    I do think that the union could have approached this situation by other angles. But it became an ego clash: We are musicians, we are so good that we cannot be evaluated and the whole world musicians say the same X I am the the conductor and I have the law in my side to evaluate you and I will not turn back…
    What if all musician have made the evaluation – guaranteed their jobs – and went on strike?
    I think the union lacks intelligence.

  • Dean Frey says:

    Cellist Antonio Meneses says “I am perplexed”, and calls for a “more humane” approach at OSB.,0.php
    Google translation is here:

  • Musician says:

    I have read many comments saying, “why you musicians didn’t adition if that’s what you do for living? It shouldn’t be a problem”.
    My question, who can garantee that this audition would be an honest audition?

  • gildemaro says:

    Dear Eduardo, you think the Union lacks intelligence? And that it would be better to play in the ‘re-auditions’ and then go on strike? Please enlighten us: What would be the purpose of this strike after the damage is done? Anyway, a strike after the ‘re-evaluation’ would have no impact at all, since the OSB (or now what remains of it, I don’t know the new name ‘they’ will choose) is scheduled to play only in the 2nd half of the year. What kind of repercussion do you think a strike of a group that isn’t working (at least not in front of the public) and on top of it receiving a sumptuous salary (as announced by Mr. Minczuk) would have?
    On a completely different matter, shouln’t it ‘ring a bell’ to all of us that Mr. Minczuk, de Carvalho Filho, Zilberstaijn ‘et al’ try to surpass each other in personally announcing ‘int’l excellence’, sumptuous salaries, world-class concert halls and more, but arbitrary ‘re-evaluations’, layoff threats and the actual firings seem to be ideas and doings of a faceless ‘Organization’?

  • Eduardo Dias Filho says:

    Dear Gildemaro,
    I DO think the union lacks intelligence – except maybe Mrs. Cheyne who has her employment contract guaranteed by law because she is the president of the same union.
    The union, even after advised that the re-evaluations were lawful (I said lawful, not moral or ethical – I do not think they are) and after loosing two times in court, drove more than 40 musicians to dismissal. I think the union’s purpose is to care for musicians jobs AND work conditions – but you must have a job in order to have “work conditions”.
    I gave the strike example as ONE possible option. I am certain that there were (and maybe there still are) other alternatives, but the union (and the commission) decided to play iron-arms with the OSB administration – knowing they were going to loose. I am truly sad with all that is happening. I do think the administration was violent, dictatorial, etc., but I also think the union was also violent and careless when decided to move on this ego-clash.
    You said the strike would have no effect after the re-evaluation. It maybe true. It is impossible to say what would have happened. But it is possible to say that the path the union and the musicians underwent produced mass international repercussion (effect), with little help or none at all.

  • It’s still too early to evaluate any results from strategies or actions undertook by OSB’s insurgent musicians and/or the union which represents them. On this matter, let’s watch how the season develops.