New warning issued on rogue Malaysian Philharmonic

New warning issued on rogue Malaysian Philharmonic


norman lebrecht

March 19, 2015

The International Federation of Musicians has published a reminder for those tempted to attend auditions in Berlin next month for the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. The MPO sacked nine musicians three years ago and continues to drag its feet in a compensation case that is going through the courts.

The MPO is under international boycott. Don’t go there. (That includes conductors, but you know what they are like.)

Read warning here.



  • Talking the talk says:

    Indeed, I believe Ben Zander is conducting this orchestra later this month.

    • Damien says:

      He is with them right now. At such a critical moment for classical nusic around the world, the boycott just proves the willingness of the western world to starve themselves for a misplaced ideal rather than work for the greater good. Side note: I do not see anyone boycotting the American banks despite their blatant robbery and corruption.

  • Fiddleman says:

    For what it’s worth, none of the many MPO members I speak with (including founding members) support the boycott.

    • ontheGstring says:

      boycott is maybe the wrong word anyway.
      It’s a warning regarding the “precarious contracts” and precarious they are.
      I’m sure your friends in the MPO can confirm the facts stated on the FIM website. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…
      So anybody interested in a job there simply should know what to expect: a malicious music(ian) hostile upper management and zero job security.
      And this in a country which is on the best way to get Taliban-ized

    • AlsoExMPO says:

      How many “current MPO” players would come out in support of the boycott… and still have a job? Kind of a hollow vote against it. I’m sure, however:
      NONE of the MPO players (especially founding members) are in support of the radical changes to the contract that took place in 2010 and 2012;
      NONE of the current MPO players are in support of the draconian and disrespectful behavior of one particular CEO who displays nothing but disdain for musicians and foreigners;
      And by the way: No one on planet Earth, likely (including current MPO members) would be “in support” of the COMPLETE WITHDRAWAL of SUPPORT for various orchestra CHILDREN that took place in August / September of last year (2014) as the new contract began. At least 3 members were told that their “children were no longer recognized as legitimate” (under MPO’s ‘interesting’ new ‘Islamic definition’) , and denied: visas ; medical insurance ; health care, leaving the members to pay for this on their own. Have you, by any chance conducted a poll about that one? 😉
      Is this an orchestra that is trying to attract North American and European talent? Try harder.

  • MWnyc says:

    Well, it’s a handsome hall, at least.

    Can anyone testify about its acoustics?

  • Michael says:

    Do you think there are that much jobs out there for people to afford to boycott and still well paid one?
    If everyone follows that boycott and that MPO can’t find musicians what do you think Petronas will do…? Probably just close it down!

  • Michael says:

    Unfortunately a lot of orchestras in Asia are like that.
    You’ve been talking a lot about Seoul Phil recently where all musicians have to audition every year and 5% get fired each season, this only by Mo Chung’s whims. What about boycotting auditions there too?

    • Violinist says:

      That’s correct.
      Just one difference.
      The other Asian orchestras don’t hold auditions in Europe, targeting international players and promising “permanent” employment.

      I think it’s great from FIM and the other unions to act and to inform about such situations.

      Big thanks to Norman / Slipped disc too! Doing a great job informing about what’s going on in the music world.
      Running this block must be a lot of work. Aprecciated!

      • Nick says:

        Sorry to be so late in replying. I was on vacation in a part of the world where
        I could read the threads but was unable to get the captcha to reply!

        The Hong Kong Philharmonic had held auditions virtually annually in Europe and the USA for at least the last 30 years. For much if not all of that time, musicians have been offered tenure after successfully completing a number of years (I think 2 but am not 100% certain).

    • erique says:

      Thailand Philharmonic is the same. They sacked many musicians, all musicians audition every year or 2 years, some are replaced not because of their performance but politics.

      • Michael says:

        Unfortunately this is true for a lot of orchestras in Asia which also organized auditions worldwide for “permanent positions”. Unfortunately they don’t have the publicity and visibility that MPO gets even if I don’t think that this boycott is a good solution.

        • exmpo says:

          None of the other Asian orchestras goes on international audition tours as regularly as the MPO and employs almost exclusively foreigners.
          None of the other Asian orchestras (to my knowldge) fired several key players without giving any reason. (more than that: stating that there have been no disciplinary or performance issues with the sacked musicians.)
          You’ve mentioned Korea. Certainly also a sad and complicated story.
          But re-auditioning is a total different thing.

      • Nick says:

        Let’s compare like with like here. The Thailand Phil is made up of teachers and students in the music faculty. There is bound to be quite a major turnover and tenure would make little sense for many.