Breaking: Music director quits major orchestra in mid-tour

We hear that Han-na Chang, music director of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, has resigned with immediate effect. The orchestra is in the middle of a European tour and had a considerable success at its BBC Proms debut last night.

han na chang qatar

The grounds for Chang’s resignation are not known*, although we hear trouble has been brewing with the orchestra’s German manager, Kurt Meister. There was also a recent clash with the concertmaster.

Meister assembled the orchestra from young, mostly European players. Its function is to highlight the cultural credentials of the gulf Emirate, and to obscure its dark role in employing slave labour and sponsoring terror organisations across the Middle East.

Han-na Chang was appointed a year ago amid much fanfare. Sunday’s concert was, said one observer, ‘not flawless but full of promise’.

She is the second music director in three days to resign with immediate effect. The first was (here).

*UPDATE: Here’s Han-na’s non-specific account of events.

 

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  • “Its function is to highlight the cultural credentials of the gulf Emirate, and to obscure its dark role in employing slave labour and sponsoring terror organisations across the Middle East.”

    Very, very well put. This I like very much too see on print. Goodwill bought through sponsoring football teams like Paris St. Germain and Barcelona and now buying their way into the Proms without any question beeing asked makes people turn the blind eye to a country where thousand of slave workers have died during the preparations for 2022 World Cup and women are treated like second-class citizens. Thank you, mr. Lebrecht.

  • I wonder if today’s story in The New York Times (on Qatar’s support of Islamists) persuaded her to end the Qatar association.

  • Its function is to highlight the cultural credentials of the gulf Emirate, and to obscure its dark role in employing slave labour and sponsoring terror organisations across the Middle East.

    Sorry Norman, I’m confused. I thought you were always telling us that politics and music were entirely separate. Or does that only apply when criticising Israeli cultural institutions?

    • True! Art and politics are not always manageable!!! But the reason for resigning is definitely not due to politics!!! If she had doubts about the political issues she should have never taken on the job in the first place!!!

    • Since mark is confused, let me try to explain: according to Norman Lebrecht, the orchestra was created to “obscure”, but nowhere does he say that it in fact does successfully obscure anything, so there is no contradiction with the position that music and politics are indeed separate. As for my own opinion, i think they are and they aren’t, depending on the context.

  • Sorry to hear that. I do have friends in this orchestra and hope that the general future is not at risk.

    A good or even just professionally functioning relationship between management, musicians and music director is never an easy thing. Not even for well known ensembles with a rich and long tradition.

    It’s not surprising that “young” orchestras , especially artificially installed creations like in Malaysia or Qatar are even more vulnerable to this kind of conflicts. Often the people on top with the money and the power have no idea about music or the “music industry”

    For an orchestra it might be the better outcome if a MD decides to leave instead of holding on to power at any costs. And destroying the orchestra in the process like it happened in Malaysia.

    Respect for her straightforward decision!
    And best wishes for a bright future to the orchestra!

    • MPO Musician, are you from Malaysian Phil? If yes, would you tell us what’s the situation there right now? No recent news…. thanks a lot

      • @Simon,
        Mixed news from the MPO really.
        The new season just started. With a really nice gala concert under Fabio Luisi.

        Flor and some of his minions are gone but there is still the same destructive management in place which came to power end of 2010.

        Looking just at the recent changes in the musician contracts (some benefit cuts, more restrictive wording etc) there is nothing good to expect from this side in future either.

        Orchestra still down ca 40 players and recent auditions have not been very successful. Difficult to say if it is because of the international boycott or because of the bad reputation, i.e. the work here is not perceived as lucrative and safe anymore?
        So lots and lots of extra players, sometimes with months-long contracts.

        Pop concerts, years ago an exception, are rather the norm now.

        CEO was talking to the musicians the other day about “rebuilding” the orchestra, basically admitting that she destroyed it in the first place.
        Rebuilding as what exactly? A low cost pop-orchestra version?

        On the bright side: Well, they finally renovated the musicians lounge…

        There is a new principal conductor, a bit like Bamert. Not sure if this will improve anything.

        Where it’s going? No idea. Like in Qatar it depends on very few people with decision making power, their goals and visions

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