When an orchestra fires a principal playerNews
It’s an event so rare I can recall only three or four instances in a major US orchestra in the past decade.
In September 2018, the New York Philharmonic dismissed principal oboe Liang Wang (pictured) and associate principal trumpet Matthew Muckey for what was described as ‘misconduct’. No elaboration was given but it was understood that a female complainant was involved.
NY Phil President Deborah Borda said: ‘the New York Philharmonic is committed to providing an environment of respect and dignity for all of our Philharmonic family.’
When the union objected to their dismissal, the Philharmonic placed the two musicians on ‘an unpaid leave of absence’ pending an independent assessment.
Nineteen months later, an arbitrator recommended that the pair should be reinstated, and they duly were, with ‘profound disappointment’.
That’s how hard it is to fire a principal in a unionised American orchestra.
So far, no case has been made for restoring the newly sacked Emily Skala to the Baltimore Symphony.
But it may be. This is not over yet.