Brazil furore – latest verdicts

Brazil furore – latest verdicts


norman lebrecht

March 17, 2011

The Brazil Symphony Orchestra has been officially cleared by the labor court to ‘evaluate’ its musicians by means of re-audition, a process that has already led to several musicians being

suspended or dismissed. It is unlikely that this process will win anyone a gold medal for excellence in human relations. The statement is reproduced below:

A Justiça do Trabalho rejeitou o pedido de liminar feito pelo Sindicato dos Músicos, que solicitava o cancelamento das avaliações de desempenho dos músicos da OSB. A Justiça entendeu que não existiu qualquer ilegalidade no ato da comunicação das avaliações, bem como ressaltou o caráter consultivo da Comissão de Músicos da OSB, que pode ou não ser convocada pelo Presidente da FOSB quando o próprio julgar necessário. A Justiça também entendeu que a FOSB, como instituição privada, tem o direito de usar da prerrogativa de empregador e avaliar seus músicos quando julgar conveniente.

Clique o link abaixo para ler o documento na íntegra no blog OSB Em Pauta.

The Labor Court rejected the request filed by the Musicians Union, which asked for the cancellation of the OSB musicians’ performance evaluations. The Court also pointed out the consultative character of the OSB Musicians Commission, which may or not be called upon the FOSB President whenever he himself finds it necessary. The Court also understood that FOSB, as a private institution, has the right to make use of the employer’s prerogative and evaluate their musicians whenever they find it convenient.

From the same source, here’s a protracted justification of the re-audition procedure by the OSB manager, Eleazar de Carvalho, jr, son of the formative conductor. And, beneath that, an independent dissenting view.

         OSB:  crisis or opportunity to continue to evolve 
        Eleazar de Carvalho Filho, President of the OSB Foundation 

The Brazilian Symphony Orchestra achieved 70 years of uninterrupted 
activity last year. We passed through several phases, some grandiose, 
others with
large difficulties in honor
ing the legacy of those who 
founded the orchestra in 1940. The OSB was a pioneer among Brazilian 
Orchestras in the recordings, tours abroad and in the identification of 
talents recognized nowadays. As a private foundation, we have the 
privilege of having the investment of public and private partners to 
maintain our business and then continue to deserve the trust of loyal 
subscribers and the general public. We have an obligation to be 
accountable to society and our educational and social programs are 
aimed at integrating us to Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. 
Our various concert series represents the “product” for which we are 
judged, either for the diversity and innovation in our programming, or 
by soloists and conductors who present with us as guests and by the 
quality and dedication of our musicians. The Reviewers praised the 2010 
season and we are very grateful to the great artists that took part in 
it. The OSB Foundation Board of Trustees, as well as their managers, 
has worked tirelessly, without any sort of pay, to seek continuity and 
the continuous improvement of the orchestra. We know that there is no 
guarantee for our existence, and we have to keep on preserving the 
tradition that has been conquered by OSB. 
We have recently announced that we would carry out performance 
evaluations in order to introduce an additional element to the 
evaluation process that occurs on the day-by-day of the orchestral 
body. We have scheduled individual assessments, within parameters that 
occur in large orchestras and with musicians from abroad to make up 
most of the evaluation boards. Our goal, when choosing external 
evaluators and of recognized competence, was to ensure total 
impartiality to the process, but also, especially, to be able to give a 
set of suggestions to the musicians to their possible improvement. 
After all, improvement is the key word in an orchestra like the OSB. We 
set up a deadline of two months, during annual leave which is meant for 
that period, so that musicians could get prepared properly. The 
required repertoire, which was judged as being extensive by some, was 
extracted, mostly from the same works that have been played over the 
past two years. Finally, the decision was to cover the entire 
orchestral body for equality reasons, to allow musicians to plead 
change of level, and by believing that it was an important way of 
communication and improvement. 
The events that followed, also in warm demonstrations and protests in 
this newspaper, on the Internet and through statements which, 
unfortunately, have been distorting the truth and scratching the 
institution image, make me do this reflection. Initially, also for 
matters of respect towards our musicians because it is a subject of 
interest only for themselves, we avoided making any public comment. We 
have been open to dialogue in the past few weeks, we have reduced some 
works that made up the evaluation and we have clarified doubts. The 
tone of the demonstration of some musicians, unfortunately, 
demonstrated that the desire was confrontational, contrary to a firm 
purpose of the Foundation to improve the artistic level and turn the 
OSB, in the coming years, again into the best orchestra in the country. 

Little has been said, especially to the general public, that we have 
presented the musicians with a new internal bylaw, with a greater 
demand for work like that of other great orchestras, and a 50% increase 
in earnings, raising the minimum wage to R$ 9000 monthly, which depends 
partly on the number of monthly concerts. We believe those are 
excellent conditions to ensure competitiveness and to attract foreign 
and Brazilian musicians to fill job openings in our orchestra. It is 
also an extraordinary sign for those students, including the 83 members 
of our Young OSB, that the career of an orchestra musician can pay a 
professional in a dignifying manner, which is commensurate with his 
contribution to the orchestral body. 
We have a great orchestra, but it can be even better. The Foundation, 
through its Trustees, has given clear signs that it is expecting this 
development and that it supports the artistic direction. The orchestra 
believes that the artistic direction will drive the process fairly, but 
with high levels of demand. Our statutory role, our duty to the legacy 
we have received, is exactly that, the one of ensuring the future of 
the institution. 
It was never our intention to hurt the respect we have for the 
differentiated work that a musician performs. The evaluations that are 
currently underway are only part of a continuous process of improvement 
and artistic evolution. We totally understand and respect the sacrifice 
of a life devoted to the study of an instrument and aimed at perfection 
every moment. We owe our gratitude to those who for years have been 
contributing to the story of our orchestra. By recalling that we are a 
private institution, I recognize that we had the onus of including all 
the musicians in the evaluations, for we believed it would be the most 
correct way of doing it. 
Let me conclude by bringing a personal testimony. I received from my 
father, Maestro Eleazar de Carvalho, the legacy of a life devoted to 
the craft of music and many years devoted to the OSB. This dream of my 
father was discontinued for negative reasons and beyond his control. I 
was given the responsibility to humbly continue this dream in the 
Presidency of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra Foundation. The other 
board members, the artistic direction and the managers will never be 
able to fulfill that dream without our musicians. We expect from those 
who share the goal of having a remarkable set, to continue to 
contribute to it. 


Finally, this from Augusto Maurer of the Orquestra Sinfônica de Porto Alegre, Brazil:

we at OSPA strongly support the claims of the insurgent members of OSB against the imposed reauditions, concerning not only the human rights and working conditions involved but, ultimately, the progress of the artistic direction of music collectives towards the utmost quality in music making.

If you agree, at least partially, to the above argument, please consider signing the online petition for the immediate suspension of the abusive process of reauditions currently underway at OSB here.


  • Marie Lamb says:

    I couldn’t help but notice the Texaco ad, presumably from an OSB program book, which shows a conductor leading the orchestra with a dipstick instead of a baton. Considering that, in American slang, the word “dipstick” is not exactly a nickname complimenting a person’s intelligence, the OSB may regret that this image was ever used in their program ad!

  • Helga Borsztch says:

    I must say the support of the OSPA is irrelevant since this note does not represent all musicians from Porto Alegre.
    Instead of encouraging your colleagues to keep their jobs they doing the opposite.
    The OSPA direction for sure disagree with such statements of support.

  • Roberto Furtado says:

    As a fan of the OSB I really don’t understand why the musicians oppose so strngly to the auditions. I – as an employee – submit to work performace evaluations every year. Why shouldn’t they (or any other employee)?

  • Federico Ramos says:

    A work evaluation is something completely different than an audition. Orchestral musicians are evaluated on a daily basis by it’s public, section leaders, and music director. Audition playing is very different than playing in a group, with other people, within the fabric of sound produced by an entire orchestra. You can’t be intellectually honest if you agree that a maestro is worth his salt if he can’t tell what is going on in the group in front of him, during his rehearsals and concerts, without the need for re-auditioning the entire group. There are obvious alterior motives by the administration that have been well documented. I urge you to go back and read all the previous blog posts by Mr. Lebrecht concerning the OSB.

  • I think it is far kinder to re-evaluate an entire organization if the product is below satisfactory standard than for a music director or colleagues to single out a few employees. There is a decency for all being treated in the same manner while receiving unbiased, and hopefully, useful feedback by impartial expert colleagues.
    In my former life as an ensemble player, I’d have agreed to this equitable evaluation process for the sake of the organization’s ultimate artistic health.

  • gildemaro says:

    @ H. Bzortsch In your opinion, “the support of the OSPA is irrelevant since this note does not represent all musicians from Porto Alegre.” Very interesting, but not precise, don’t you think? So I only hope the matter has been presented to the musicians of the OSPA and a majority willing to support this statement has been found , as things are usually done in a democratic environment…And also should, IMHO.
    Your other statement “The OSPA direction for sure disagree with such statements of support. “ is so naive nobody should bother to discuss it. But to bring it to a funny ending, may I ask if you know the English dictum “Turkeys wouldn’t vote for Christmas”…?

  • Helga,
    you might be surprised, indeed, by how much of our statement in favor of OSB’s threatened musicians would be also endorsed by OSPA’s management, which is currently implementing as its own artistic policy the idea of a musician driven season exclusively assigned to guest conductors.

  • Helga,
    you might be surprised, indeed, by how much of our statement in favor of OSB’s threatened musicians would be also endorsed by OSPA’s management, which is currently implementing as its own artistic policy the idea of a musician driven season exclusively assigned to guest conductors.