Breaking: One side cracks in Brazil orchestra crisis

Breaking: One side cracks in Brazil orchestra crisis


norman lebrecht

July 10, 2011

After months of confrontation, boycott and international condemnation, it looks as though the men behind the Brazil Symphony Orchestra have taken the first step towards peace.

According to a well-informed report in the Estadao of Sao Paolo, the board of the OSB have stripped conductor Roberto Minczuk of his absolute power to hire and fire.

There is some question as to whether he still holds the title of artistic director. A three-man advisory committee has been appointed to deal with matters arising from the firing of 33 musicians, and Minczuk’s failure to replace them during an expensive international search. Candidates were being offered up to $9,000 a month to join the troubled orchestra and most declined. According to one industry source, the Brazilian Ministry of Labour took measures to deny work permits to foreign replacements.

This is a step forward by the board, small but potentially helpful. Minczuk has not confirmed any reduction in his position, but the board move is a public humiliation for a headstrong maestro who made head-on confrontation his principal policy. His position must now appear to be in jeopardy.



  • Luiz Benedini says:

    Not really, in my opinion. Since the “Artistic Committee” created has no power at all and has a mere advisory character, it lseems the Committee was devised not to share decisions, but to dilute the conductor’s responsibility. In other words, he still has the power, but will not take alone the blame for his actions. Furthermore, the majority of the Committee is named by the administration. The Foundation Board has declared, after the above mentioned news was published, that Minczuk participated in the naming of the Committee. Nothing has changed therefore.

  • I would’nt believe too early in a real mindshift within the board of OSB. To restrain from power which is settled in binding contracts is a tricky issue. Why should a chief conductor do this? This needs a lot of public, govnernmental and even more internal pressure from those board members who really love music and want to have a new fresh start of OSB without odd personell affairs by putting the problems (persons in charge) into te centre of discussions. However, hope springs eternal.

  • Rosana Martins says:

    The information in the Brazilian press is conflicting. A PR problem? Some say Minczuk remains as artistic director, together with 3 new other people (!!!), some say he stays only as chief conductor.
    I believe the FOSB should clarify the present situation. Are they programming Maestro Minczuk to conduct the OSB this season in spite of the musicians’ and the public’s feelings?
    Are they maintaining the present season as announced? The Onyx Series has Beethoven’s Symphony # 9 in August and again in December… Brazilian composers are very poorly represented as well.
    What are their conditions for the return of the 33 musicians?

  • Miroslaw Giorgiev says:

    Rosana, there is no conditions for the return for the 33 musicians, they were all fired because they did not want to negotiate, they can back any time (if any room is left) but they need now an audition as everybody else.

  • Ademir dos Anjos says:

    Miroslaw, it is not true that the sacked musicians didn’t want to negotiate. They tryed to, but the orchestra managers mantained a irreducible position. They tryed to understand the basis in wich the reaudition was considered necessary and the criteria that will be used and got no answer. They tried to know who will be the evaluation comission and got no answer. They even tried to postpone the reaudition, on the basis that it was announced during the holyday recess and the two months to prepare was to short a period. They are ready to negotiate right now, but the managers refuse to do so with the sindicate and only accept to talk individually, in a clear disrespectful atitude against the musical profession. And, as far as I know, there is enough room left, since the international and national boycott against this attitudes has been pretty efficient in guarantee that not a single good musician has entered the ‘new osb’… unless you are counting the students that are been fooled with false promises and are now trying to manage the challenge of be in the spotlight with an orchestra of wich nobody waits to much in the aspect cohesion… As a matter of fact, the osb manager should stop playing games and try to get the real musicians of the ensemble, otherwise they will reissue the sad episode of the booing in Rio’s opera house.