Dear Mr. Lebrecht,
The OSB Musicians Commission considers important to make the following remarks about the letter by Maestro Minczuk, published on this blog:
1. The period of commotion we are experiencing for about two months, is the result of hasty disclosure of a document calling on all the orchestral body (including leaders) to participate in a misguided “performance evaluation”, limited to a single individual presentation of 30 minutes long. Undoubtedly, it has never been done during the 70 years of existence of the orchestra, not stated on the employment contracts of the OSB musicians and certainly not adopted in any of the major orchestras of the world, as it is usually exposed by Maestro Minczuk. This document, received by the musicians on January 6th, 2011 made no mention of any layoffs, but the strangeness of the call at the beginning of summer holiday as well as the uniqueness of the proposal caused great commotion among the musicians. This type of audition is usually applied in order to enter the orchestra, not as a “performance evaluation”.
2. The impression that the mass dismissal would occur was reinforced during the release of the 2011 season, about three weeks ago, when it was officially announced that all programming scheduled for March, April, May, June and July would be in charge of Brazilian Youth Symphony Orchestra, a music students ensemble, with no working contract with the OSB Foundation and which should actually be submitted to an educational program consistent with the goals of a real Youth Orchestra, and therefore, not able to replace the professional orchestra. If there is no intention to dismiss, what would justify this huge period without any schedule for the musicians of the professional OSB immediately after those auditions?
This impression of a massive dismissals, was also reinforced by the unexpectedly announcement of a Voluntary Retirement Plan, for which only three players signed up. A young musician who plays the English-horn in an exceptional manner, an oboist with extensive experience in international orchestras as the Berlin Philharmonic and Berlin Opera and a violinist wit
h over thirty years devoted
3. This salary 6500.00 U.S. refers to a few positions in the orchestra. The base salary will be 3529,00 U.S. , plus extras for concerts and total assignment of image and audio rights. With this “wage increase” the orchestra nearly doubles the number of functions, and compels all musicians to exclusivity in addition to removing the bonus for years of service earned by the musicians after tough negotiations.
4. The musicians certainly would agree to a well-structured program of “performance evaluation”, since it included the same criteria used in serious institutions, as demonstrated to the President of the OSB Foundation, Dr. Eleazar de Carvalho Filho, in a meeting with members of the OSB Musicians Commission, on February 12th, 2011. In this case, the evaluation would be subject necessarily to the analysis of the musician performance in the course of a given period (i.e. annual) and obligatorily subject to review by the sections principals and the Maestro. It could never be limited to a single individual presentation, which can be negatively influenced by uncountable factors.
5. Maestro Minczuk has been the Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of OSB for the last five and a half years. He had more than enough time to evaluate the members of the orchestra which he has worked with for hundreds of rehearsals and performances.
6. It is noteworthy that the “ritual” for admission to the orchestra is in its statutes and was always observed. He inferred in his letter that the musicians have been admitted in the orchestra without the necessary rite of the auditions. The personnel and accounting departments have the records of every musician’s admission and their history within the institution. However, there have never existed any official documents of the auditions with the notes of the judges. He did hire some musicians without auditioning them. He can veto any candidate.
7. We are convinced that the orchestra and its management would not be subject to the current constraint if the musicians had participated in the drafting of the evaluation program, a possibility predicted in the Statute of OSB Foundation.
President of the OSB Musicians Commission