German conductor defies international boycott

German conductor defies international boycott


norman lebrecht

December 21, 2020

The German conductor Jun Märkl has signed on as music director of the Malayasian Philharmonic, an orchestra that was placed under international boycott after summarily firing most of its foreign musicians eight years ago.

Märkl, 61, will start work in September.

He said: ‘It is with great joy and excitement that I am accepting the honour to lead the MPO through the next years to come. I am delighted to begin the journey of a closer relationship with an organization I feel a close affinity to already – both warmly with the musicians of the orchestra and also with the extraordinary management team.’

Extraordinary is the right word for it.

Märkl was recently named music director by the Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra.




  • Ferenc Gabor says:

    Jun Märkl is a very fine and experienced conductor ! I had the pleasure to play under him exceptional concerts in Hamburg Staatsorchester.

  • Julien says:

    It would have been interesting to know if the staff is the same as eight years ago. Maybe the methods have changed, or not.
    Does anybody know ?
    Anyway, Jun Markl is a gentleman and not a bossy conductor.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Hey, everybody’s gotta find a gig, right?

  • Grant says:

    A lot of time has gone by since those days when those various musicians were inexplicably fired. Much of the management is different now. Policies regarding tenure, etc. are still rather suspect and certainly unlike the standard in any American/European orchestra, but the members know what they’re getting into if they accept a job there. To continue a boycott of the MPO is silly at this point and only does a disservice to the musicians there who want the best for the MPO. Let’s be happy that they’ve landed a skillful conductor and wish them nothing but bright days ahead.

  • fflambeau says:

    He’s an excellent conductor. I believe he is 1/2 Japanese so gigs in Asia seem fitting.

  • Nick2 says:

    I suggest it is unfair to continue this near vendetta against the MPO. At the time the musicians contracts were not renewed (they were not ‘fired’ as the Malaysian Courts agreed and tenure was not built in to contracts), the management was certainly especially poor. Also it is wholly wrong to continue with the myth that all the overseas musicians were “fired”. That is just not true. Nine contracts were not renewed. Some decades earlier 16 contracts were not renewed in the young Hong Kong Philharmonic. Unless there is tenure guaranteed after a probation period, contracts in many overseas orchestras are for a fixed term. There is not much musicians who sign contracts for work in such orchestras can do about that. But I do agree that there has to come a time with every young orchestra when its auditioning practices are tightened and tenure becomes part of a contract. The first thing any musician considering auditioning should check is precisely what are the audition procedures, who makes the final decision on appointments and what are the precise terms of the contracts.

    I have heard the MPO twice in recent years, both times under the excellent Mark Wigglesworth. Its experienced Artistic Administrator at the time had come from working in the USA and has since moved to the Hong Kong Philharmonic to work with Jaap van Zweden. It does seem that the management is now quite different from almost 9 years ago when the contract issue made headlines. The MPO itself is a fine ensemble that is fortunate to work in one of the loveliest of concert halls with superb acoustics designed by Kirkegaard Asociates.

    Time to put the past aside, I suggest.

  • MWnyc says:

    Others have mentioned that the Malaysian Phil’s current management is different from the one that messed things up so badly. It’s also worth remembering that the Malaysian Phil was a pet project of Mahathir Mohamed, and when he returned to office I expected that conditions at the orchestra would get better. Let’s just hope that they stay better now that he has retired.

  • Madeleine Richardson says:

    I have a ticket to a concert in Antwerp which will be conducted by Jun Maerkl in March (all being well).
    The programme concentrates on classical Spanish music from the likes of de Falla.
    We could all do with a touch of Spanish sunshine at the moment. Can’t wait.