Brazil – the youth orchestra protest

Brazil – the youth orchestra protest


norman lebrecht

April 10, 2011

The protest by members of the youth orchestra who refused to play in place of sacked members of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra was cut off by the hall management, who disconnected the microphones. 

But I have been sent two texts that the young players tried to read and believe many senior musicians will be encouraged by the principles expressed.
Text 1
I am a musician of Young OSB, and this is a letter I wrote the night 
following the “concert chaos”, a letter in which I attempt to 

There are those who wonder, of course, because we did what we did and 
especially the manner in which our action has been undertaken. Before 
answering this question, I would like to ask a question that consumed 
me for whole nights: 
Why was the concert not canceled? 
The reasons why this concert should have been canceled wouldn’t fit on 
a letter. OSB is undergoing a crisis of unprecedented proportions. This 
fact is already known from the international community and the 
orchestral public at large. Virtually the entire music community spoke 
out against what is being taken forward by FOSB. Only from the top of 
my mind, The Rio de Janeiro Federal University, the UNIRIO, the 
Villa-Lobos Foundation, Petrobras Symphony, the Municipal Theater 
Symphony, The Order of the Musicians of Brazil and SindMusi published 
official notes in rejection. Artists of international level refused to 
get involved with the orchestra during this period, such as Nelson 
Freire, Cristina Ortiz, Roberto Tibiriçá, Ana Botafogo, Alex Neoral, 
Fabiano Segalote and Marina Spoladore, or published  open letters 
against the aforementioned sackings, as Isaac Karabtchevsky, Alex 
Klein, Ricardo Rocha, Alison Balsom and dozens of others. 
We, young and (at least in my case) unexperienced musicians, found 
ourselves in the position of involuntary replacement of our colleagues 
– and in many cases also our teachers, mentors, friends, professional 
examples. Although Conductor Minczuk has stated that “replace the 
musicians of the OSB […] was not the ‘intention’ of the Foundation,” 
this was certainly the ‘effect’ of such a decision. Questioned as it 
might be whether, in fact, that replacement of sorts IS what happened 
or if this idea was touted to harm FosB, there is no doubt that this 
was indeed the prevailing view in our ways of working and living 
together. And we suffered due it, and not little suffering. 
Therefore, we the youth orquestra, though not out of “free will” as was 
once said, have been placed as defenders of the actions of our 
superiors. After all, if we were still playing under their orders and 
accepting their decisions, how could we be in favor of our fired 
And beyond all this there was the rage buildup around the concert 
itself. More than once, the subscribers of the series of OSB have come 
publicly to express they did not want, nor had paid for, to attend to a 
grafted youth orchestra. It was a known fact that musicians of the OSB 
would be playing outside the theater in protest, and that musicians 
from other groups and localities would enter the theater with the sole 
purpose of protesting Minczuk and booing the musicians. 
Let us, for a minute, place ourselves in this situation where the OSB 
Young saw himself: our audience divided between suspicious subscribers 
and hostile players, and at the outside our offended former classmates 
and former teachers playing in protest to the concert that we, of all 
people in the world, would be running. 
Hence my question: Why was the show not canceled? Why was this concert 
carried out until the very last consequences, if everything and 
everyone was against it? The Young OSB is an educational project; we 
are there to learn. What could be learned under these conditions? Why 
not one of the 11 Council members raised the question of how to be on 
that stage that day would be harmful to us? 
Puting it another way: between Maestro, Foundation, Council Board, 
sponsors, production and audience, why did nobody thought of us? 

                   photo: flickr
Text 2:

Music comes first! We in the OSB Youth orchestra firmly believe in this. We believe that in order to have music, and in order to have musicians, there must exist above all respect.

Faced with this whole inseparable situation – where an immoral action finds support in the law – the dignity of the entire musical class should prevail and, consequently, the OSB-YO manifests itself peacefully by refusing to play, not only because we being used to replace the professional OSB, which is a fact, but because today
we are in the role of being
the future of music in our country, and do not want our musical and social reality to remain without respect, morals or dialogue.

Although on more than one occasion it has been stated that the conductor and FOSB are open to dialogue, we don’t believe this will solve our situation as young musicians, for this same channel of dialogue was open to the professionals and FOSB did not compromise, triggering this sad scenario where the music scene is today.

We want, as of today, now and forever, to exercise our profession, making music in a healthy environment and having respect for others as a principle.

We are here today in this situation and choose to act, we choose to express ourselves on behalf of music and truth, and, with all due respect to the audiences of today and of always, we will not be playing today.

We place out hope on doing the right things, and it is with this hope that we appreciate and rely on your support.

The OSB Youth Orchestra

text 3 (in Portuguese):
A  música acima de tudo! Nós da OSBJovem acreditamos nesta afirmativa.
Acreditamos que para haver música deve haver músicos, e que para haver
deve acima de tudo existir respeito.

Frente a toda esta situação indissociável – onde uma ação imoral
respaldo na lei – a dignidade de toda a classe musical deve prevalecer
e, assim
sendo, a OSBJovem se manifesta de forma pacífica se recusando a tocar,
apenas por estarmos sendo usados para substituir a OSB profissional, o
que é
fato, mas porque hoje estamos no papel de ser o futuro da música no
país, e não
queremos que a realidade musical e social continue sem respeito, sem
moral e sem

Embora em mais de uma ocasião tenha sido colocado que a FOSB e o
maestro estão
abertos a diálogo, não acreditamos que isso possa resolver a nossa
situação como
músicos jovens, uma vez que esse mesmo canal de diálogo foi aberto aos
profissionais e a FOSB não transigiu, desencadeando este triste cenário
em que o
meio musical se encontra.

Queremos a partir de hoje, de agora e para sempre, exercer nossa
fazer música em um ambiente saudável e tendo como principio o respeito

Hoje estamos aqui nesta situação e escolhemos agir, escolhemos nos
manifestar em
prol da música e da verdade, e é com todo o respeito à plateia de hoje
e de
sempre que não tocaremos hoje.

Temos esperança nas coisas certas, e é com essa esperança que
agradecemos e
contamos com o apoio de todos vocês.


  • Matheus says:

    Mr. Lebrecht,
    Thank you. I wish I could think of something more inspiring to say after such an enormously heplful posting; I guess my writing skills were spent off on my letter. Thank you so very much.
    Clarifying: I was the one who wrote the first letter, during the following night, since I couldn’t sleep. The second letter is a collective effort; it’s the manifesto we tried to read before the mic was cut off.
    We’re currently focusing our efforts in reaching to the large media in order to avert the damage done to the orchestra’s reputation, and our own as well.
    Matheus, Trumpet section of young OSB

  • Daniel Guedes says:

    Dear Mr. Lebrecht,
    Thank you for opening this space for the letter of the young musicians, silented at the concert last Saturday. The world deserves to Know the truth.

  • Eduardo Dias Filho says:

    The Youth BSO members are TRULY HEROES: they did what the professional orchestra members didn’t have the guts – or balls – to do for the past five years.
    It is only now, when the rebellious musicians have nothing else to loose – their jobs are gone already – that they “stimulate” the youngsters (most of them their students) to raise up to the conductor.
    I wonder why didn’t the main orchestra members do it in the past, after they voted Minczuk out and the board kept him in the job.