The Malay word for abolishing an orchestra

The Malay word for abolishing an orchestra


norman lebrecht

July 02, 2021

The Malaysian Philharmonic is ‘re-evaluating’, according to a statement posted on its social media.

Telling all the musicians in a memo that their contracts will not be renewed beyond December is a re-evaluation down to zero.

Malaysia is the first country to kill an orchestra during the Covid era.




  • alfred says:

    In all honesty, given the events and impacts of the past 18 months, I am slightly surprised that this is the first national orchestra to be ‘re-evaluated’. It’s a quite straightforward way to divert money from one area into another (health, for example) in a time of extreme fiscal pressure globally. However, doing so is a false economy – music can and does help heal and soothe like nothing else, it helps us reflect and move forward with hope. Perhaps this is why other nations have not taken this path thus far, and let us hope few others will follow the Malaysian example.

  • Tom says:

    About on par with ‘restructuring’, like you’re not talking about people, but something grander and more abstract.

  • Carolyn J. Lewis says:

    This is very sad news. My husband and I attended a concert of the MPO in Kuala Lumpur in 2021 or so. It was one of the most thrilling live concerts I have ever attended in my life!

  • I want the entire Malaysian Philharmonic to relocate to Atlanta Georgia USA. I will put you to work scoring film. Get in touch with me please.

  • fflambeau says:

    How about “killing off”? That’s what’s really happening there. Also, busting contracts right and left to do so.

  • fflambeau says:

    Jun Märkl is half Japanese and Japan has some really good orchestras that are well paid. If I were him, I would go there, not Malaysia.

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    Once upon a time (60’s and 70″s) American orchestras went to Europe to show how good they were and to collect concert and sponsorship fees.

    Once upon a time (80’s and early 90’s) American orchestras went to Japan to show how good they were and to collect concert and sponsorship fees.

    Once upon a time (2012 and after), American orchestras went to China to show how good they were and to collect concert and sponsorship fees.

    Who’s next? Many American orchestras (Philly and Cleveland) need the money that comes from foreign residencies.

    If they do not capture them, they are in trouble.

  • Peter says:

    It is widely known that MPO has had administrative problems for a long time. But fundamentally it has a business model that is not very sustainable. Malaysia does not have a deep tradition in western classical music. Why should it ? Those who do study music are typically the chinese ethnic people, and the political control rests with the ethnic malay people. Malaysia has an inferiority complex in relation to smaller, richer, generally better run Singapore next door. And Singapore has SSO. The government (malay) wanted a world class orchestra, but rather than employ the good home grown (chinese) musicians, the government preferred to recruit foreigners, and pay them expatriate packages. The combination of high salaries, relatively small audiences, and relatively few concerts made the MPO completely unviable financially. It always has been. But like most government projects in malaysia, it was subsidised by the almost bottomless income of the national oil company Petronas. There is no natural connection between an oil company and an orchestra, but thats where government money comes from in malaysia.
    But hard times came, oil production has been falling, oil prices have been falling, the economy struggled, and the easy subsidy money has dried up. That was even before Covid.

    It is absolutely no fault of the MPO players. They are a long suffering group who have made the best of chronic poor administration and changes in direction. And widespread contempt within music circles, despite providing some good performances, and CDs. But the business model of MPO is broken.

    Whether “re-evaluating” is the right word or not for what is happening now, the government does really need to re-evaluate whether they want to promote wester classical music in malaysia, and if so how to do this. It will be sad to see MPO go, or morph into something different. But perhaps it was always a project on life support. And with covid, that life support has to give priority to real people.

  • Michael Brame says:

    Does anybody have any latest information?