Renegade Malaysia Philharmonic loses orchestra managers

Renegade Malaysia Philharmonic loses orchestra managers


norman lebrecht

November 05, 2017

We hear that the Malaysian Philharmonic, which is under an international musicians’ boycott for past sackings, has just lost its American general manager Timothy Tsukamoto (pictured), along with orchestral managers Amy Yu and Ying Hui Tam.

Their departures are ascribed to the rampant CEO, Raina Abdullah.

There are around forty vacancies in the orchestra. There is no tuba, one trombone, just two trumpeta…

So poisoned is the atmosphere that Abdullah recently refused to allow a visiting orchestra to perform in Kuala Lumpur if it included one of the principal players she had formerly sacked.



  • Bratschegirl441 says:

    Please, check your facts. All three persons you name resigned, they were not fired. The GM was just offered a renewal which he turned down.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Our information is that they resigned under pressure.

      • Bratschegirl441 says:

        Each had their own circumstance. The GM was offered a two-year renewal. Posting his picture with a headline announcing he was fired is simply incorrect. Please be more careful with facts, and more vigilant with your sources. Thanks.

        • norman lebrecht says:

          Being fired by the Malaysian Phil is a badge of honour. But I have adjusted the headline accordingly.

          • Bratschegirl441 says:

            Thanks for adjusting. You might also adjust your article to state there are two trumpets and one trombone, not one and zero as you say.

  • MPO Insider says:

    The trumpet and trombone have neither past their probation. Last I have heard they have been waiting months and months for their contract to even start…..I wouldn’t be surprised if Raina’s antics will cause them to resign before the result is even out…

  • Mark Henriksen says:

    I just checked the website of the orchestra and clicked on “musicians” and there is: 1 trumpet, no trombones, and no tuba!

    Can someone remind me about the details of the purge? For example, what is behind it…xenophobia?

  • Devastated.... says:

    It’s true things are the most rocky ever here….

    Raina told us in a Principals meeting that we are no longer needed on audition panels.

    They have acquired outside council “non MPO musicians” to adjudicate the auditions. He is a powerful Malay associated with the National Symphony of Malaysia. A plot to insert non qualified Malaysian’s into the orchestra.

    Last year we lost two highly qualified Malaysians, Raina Is even driving away the best local musicians!

  • Paul Philbert says:

    Dear Bratschegirl441, the MPO website currently lists a complement of 3 flutes (it should be 4), 2 oboes (it should be 4), 3 clarinets (it should be 4), 2 bassoons (it should be 4), 4 horns (it should be 6), ONE trumpet (it should be 4), and ZERO low brass.. (this is to overlook the complement of just 5 violas..!!.. there should be 12.). I am lead to believe that those to whom you refer are still on probation, and as such not yet fully confirmed members of my former orchestra. To reflect that, when the MPO was formed it consisted of 105 wonderful musicians; my heart is deeply saddened by this anorexic list. Something significant has inspired this personnel exodus..! My personal experience notwithstanding, I wish only the very best for the MPO. I hope that this downward trend can be reversed VERY soon.

  • Nick says:

    I heard the orchestra in a very fine concert of Beethoven and Brahms last March with Stephen Hough and Mark Wigglesworth. Whatever is wrong, and there seems a lot, has clearly little to do with the quality of the members of the orchestra. The failings in this orchestra stem exclusively from the utter incompetence of the CEO – and perhaps through her from the utter incompetence of the Board. Unfortunately it is Petronas which provides the cash to keep the orchestra going. If that company had any sense, it would either close down the orchestra – rather a senseless act since it also manages the Concert Hall with its excellent acoustics – or bring in an very experienced international orchestra consultant with an agreement that his/her recommendations will be implemented (within certain guidelines which would have to include the departure of the CEO). Not just any old so-called expert but someone with a good working knowledge of the country, the region and of orchestras made up of different nationalities. Such experts do exist. The desires of each group of players, whilst in general the same in terms of conditions of work, are very different when it comes to issues like pensions, tenure, housing on a short term basis – and so on.

    It is sad that what for a while seemed as though it would give the Singapore Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic a run for their money is now riven with far to much animosity driven by a senseless CEO. Shades of the Seoul Philharmonic, alas!

  • Classical Music Fan says:

    What do you mean by “renegade”? I thought the Malaysian Philharmonic was a very reputable orchestra. What happened lately? I have to admit that I have not been following the orchestra at all.

    I had the opportunity of attending a couple of Malaysian Philharmonic concerts when I was in Malaysia on business about 10 years ago. The conductor for both concerts was Matthias Bamert.

    I was very surprised to find out that Matthias Bamert was actually the music director of the Malaysia Philharmonic. I did not know that such an unknown orchestra had such a famous music director. I knew Matthias Bamert at that time because he was well known for his many premiere recordings as part of the “Contemporaries of Mozart” series.

  • says:

    Raina was a total disaster and a very nasty person to work with❗️