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41 Members of the OSB are being terminated.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:51 am    Post subject: 41 Members of the OSB are being terminated. Reply with quote

google translation


In Portuguese:
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, I've been trying to follow this for a couple weeks, but the translations are just confusing me more. What exactly is happening?
Practicing is for the insecure.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As best as I understand, either the orchestra's board or Roberto Minczuk or both Minczuk and the board are requiring that the entire orchestra reaudition for their current positions. I think about 20 members(or maybe more) did agree to this reaudition, but at least 41 didn't, and I believe that most of those people were terminated earlier today. (There are 20 others and I am not clear about their status.)

Two members of the orchestra went to the OSB office today, and they were told they were fired according to this blog post:
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There were a group that decided to re-audition after missing the first date after being threatened with dismissal. People with families, mortgages, etc. The 41 that were fired stayed firm in refusing to re-audition and got canned. There has been negotiations with the Labor Minister but that hasn't resulted in much, with the Foundation even not showing up for scheduled negotiating sessions. The role of the Ministry will be interesting to follow in the coming days in whether these dismissals are definitive or temporary. Also Minczuk's ability to continue a international guest conducting career should be interesting to watch with all the negative backlash with most of the musicians unions worldwide taking firm positions against this guy. If you think about it....in his time there he has fired around 57 musicians....some received notice on Xmas eve from what I have read. Really said lack of moral ethics and abuse of power.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Better, and in more detail:


Brazil - latest on the musician sackings
I have received an email from Deborah Cheyne, a viola player in the OSB and president of the Sindicato dos Músicos Profissionais do Rio de Janeiro, clarifying the latest situation. She was writing also on behalf of Luzer Machtyngier, president of the OSB musicians.

Here's what Deborah has to say:

On Monday, we had a final round of negotiation. Prior to it, we attended a call from the Ministry of Labour to sit in a round table with the ministry's mediator, where a proposal was offered. The employer's side did not show up.

The proposal was, to review the performance evaluation test with the collaboration of the Ministery of Labour. This was a personal proposal of the Minister, and the FOSB declined it.

Later this day, a informal and definitive negotiation happened between Union and FOSB.
The FOSB offered a "plan of voluntary dismissal" and the musicians refused it, believing that this plan only transfers the onus of dismissing such a large number of musicians.

On Tuesday, the management called and/or communicated by e-mail, 31 musicians to attend to the office next day. Two of them attended the call and they were communicated about their dismissal. The other 29 did not appear. Which does not mean that they will not be fired, it is just a matter or time.

Nine musicians received a statement to attend a re-scheduled audition, since they were on medical license before. Four musicians did not receive any communication at all till this moment. Calculating, this means 44 musicians. At this moment 31 will be soon or later be dismissed for sure.

To my European eyes, this kind of confrontation management belongs to a very dark and distant era.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a letter from one of the orchestra members, Nigel Shore, to Jean Landa of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra in response to a letter by Minczuk. I think it speaks for itself.

Hi Jean,
the basic facts are of course correct, it would not be possible for
Roberto to write this otherwise. However, I feel that the emphasis,
reasons for the action and the responsibility for them have been
I don't believe it was the board that required the performance
evaluations to take place. They wouldn't have the musical know-how or
the insight to move in that direction. This kind of move can only come
from the artistic director. Minczuk told me in December that he wanted
to "clean up" the orchestra this coming season.
Apart from myself, I know of only 2 other musicians who were invited
without audition (solo cello and solo horn), both also invited by
Minczuk to fill vacant positions. The only person who expressed
discontent about this at a meeting between Minczuk and the orchestra
was the then solo clarinettist, a close friend of Minczuk, who has
since left the orchestra, and who, I have been told, also never
auditioned! When we auditioned for the solo clarinet positions last
year (both were free), the standard was very high and the whole wind
section without exception wanted to give both jobs. Minczuk refused to
give the job of his friend away, saying that he wanted him back and
was sure that he would come back. We on the jury voted unanimously to
give the job to a talented young Brazilian clarinettist, and he
refused. Not exactly democratic either, but that is how he works. I am
sure this is the only person he is referring to when he speaks of
dissatisfaction within the orchestra about the audition process.
Exclusivity to the OSB is also not new to these new contracts and
higher salaries. The old contracts, with a considerably lower salary,
also included the exclusivity clause, forbidding the musicians to work
with other orchestras. This was mostly not reinforced, as they had to
play in at least 2 orchestras to earn a living. However, I was
submitted to considerable stress from the administration for giving a
concert in Berlin, even though I live here and was a guest with OSB!
I do believe that he wants better working conditions and better
salaries for the orchestra. But I feel that he wants this very much in
exchange for more power. The more he personally gets for the
musicians, the more he can impose on them and abuse his status. That
this kind of thing happens in South America more than in other parts
of the world is no secret. It's called bribery and corruption. Of
course this would never happen in Calgary, because you have regulated
contracts and powerful unions, not just because you are "an excellent
and even orchestra, and ... a well-organized and established
institution for a long time". The OSB is also a traditional orchestra
with a great history going back 70 years, national institution which
Roberto Minczuk has just single-handedly destroyed.
Yes, 35 musicians auditioned, but only 15 willingly. The rest
auditioned in a kind of 2nd round, after being warned of the imminent
issuing of dismissal notices. Imagine people with mortgages and young
families! What else are they going to do? So in addition to bribery
and corruption, there is now coercion. Even so, hardly any of the
older members auditioned, as they just don't feel up to performing a
solo program under this pressure, and stand firm in their belief that
they shouldn't be forced to re-audition for a job which they have held
for most of their working lives.
For those who did not audition, their position does not remain
"unresolved" - they have been sacked.
Basically, one can produce valid arguments on both sides, arguments
about lack of standards, about musicians rights, about
self-discipline, etc., but the main fact remains that this is not how
an orchestra should be run, musically or morally. One person had the
courage to say in the press yesterday that what the orchestra really
needs is a competent conductor who can solve the issues in the
orchestra from the podium. This is what we have felt all along, right
back to 2008 when we refused to play with him any longer, and right
back to 2006 when he sacked 14 musicians on Christmas Eve. But when we
confronted the administration about removing him, they reminded the
orchestra that it was his presence and contract that guaranteed all
the future sponsorship. In other words, don't bite the hand that feeds
you. In my opinion, it should never have got to the stage that an
artistic director has such absolute power that he can wield it in such
a corrupt and inhumane manner.
This is, I believe, a true picture of what is happening in the OSB. I
believe that the only way forward to save this orchestra is to act
from the highest political level to remove Minczuk and the entire
top-level administration and replace them with competent specialists,
to use the newly obtained millions to invest in a pension scheme, to
help the older members retire in dignity, to guarantee all existing
jobs and to set up a regulated and democratic audition process for all
future appointments. And to appoint a chief conductor of international
standing who will gain the respect of the musicians through musical
Please feel free to forward this letter to your colleagues as you feel
Best wishes,
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, could you post the letter that provoqued that reply? Thanks!
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is why we need unions.
Jeff Mason
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maestro John Neschling, former artistic director of the Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, and the man responsible for the renewal of that orchestra, wrote a beautiful piece on his blog (semibreves.wordpress.com) concerning the whole situation with the OSB. Many times the renewal process that he instilled in the OSESP has been quoted by Minczuk as a comparison to what he is doing in Rio, obviously at Mtro. Neschling's disapproval. It's in portuguese and was just recently translated into english. Here is the link and also the link to the english translation.



And now, OSB?
It seems that the impasse in which the musicians and the artistic direction and the administration of the OSB found themselves has reached its climax: more than forty musicians from the ensemble are being dismissed, a plea of just cause being entered be t...he administration, for not presenting themselves for the control auditions called for by their artistic director. There is no doubt that the way with which the orchestral directors lead the whole process was truculent, arbitrary and socially unjust. There is no way of camouflaging the bad faith in which the auditions were announced during the musicians' holidays. There is no way of hiding the intention to dismiss, when a warning was issued that non-appearance at the tests would be considered as grave indiscipline, and the auditions and methods of control were not discussed with the musicians or their spokesmen. There is no way of humanely justifying the summary dismissal of musicians who have been members of the orchestra for 20 or 30 years and who are obviously no longer at the height of their powers. In other words, the process was invested with injustice, absolutism and lack of shrewdness from the beginning right up to its lamentable outcome. I have already written, in various posts on this blog, expressing my opinion of the away in which this whole mess was set in motion. I also refuted energetically, although it is insistently made, at the example of Roberto Minczuk in the paper "O Globo", the comparison between the process of quality control which the OSESP was put through to restructure it when I arrived and the auditions organised by the OSB. I cannot accept that the process through which the OSESP passed in 1997 is used to excuse or justify the trauma and dismantling which is occurring now in the OSB. Because this is what we are talking about: a dismantling, the conscious and voluntary destruction of an orchestra which has existed for 70 years, which has survived lean periods and which has shone in times of glory, but which has never been stabbed in the way it is now being stabbed. The OSB as we Cariocas and Brazilians have known it for decades has finished, has been dismantled, no longer exists. I never imagined that the "bon mot" I coined in another post saying that instead of changing the conductor, the administration decided to change the orchestra could ever correspond exactly to the reality. It would be comic if it were not tragic, because the person who is perpetrating such "misgoverning" is none other than the son of one of the musicians who created the aura of this orchestra. The press, in its eagerness to try and understand of explain this unheard-of situation, looks for parallels, whether in Brazilian orchestras (all victims of our extreme precariousness or groups created from zero in the last years) or in great world orchestras. These latter, due to their century-old structures and intrinsic indisputable qualities, cannot be compared with any Brazilian orchestra, from the OSESP to the Lira São Joanese. In Brazil, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Minas Gerais is feeling its way, the OSESP has just entered adolescence. The Philharmonics of Berlin, New York and Israel certainly don't need any kind of quality control exam, which, structured in a different way and organised in a more respectful manner, could help the OSB to a leap in standard which no musician in his right mind would oppose. The OSB is a private institution, whose employees are governed by the rules of the CLT (Consolidation of Labour Laws). These rules presuppose the possibility of dismissal, when there is just cause, and when the dismissed are compensated with the payment of all legally prescribed rights. The programme of voluntary dismissal, although seeming to me perverse in the humane world of the OSB, is a legally prescribed alternative and if it was not considered by the musicians of the orchestra, that is because the whole situation seemed to them unjust and badly executed. The dismissed musicians can now fight in court, which will decide if the dismissals are fair or not and the administration of the orchestra will have to respect the sentence which the judge passes. The consequences may weigh heavily or not on the orchestra's budget. What is not within the scope of the legal decisions is the immeasurable harm which such a crisis will bring to the future of the orchestra. One of the principal patrons of the OSB is the BNDES (National Bank of Economic and Social Development). The letter S in the bank's name underlines the social concerns of the company. Will the bank be interested in continuing to support an orchestra which vilifies its employees in such a manner? Which dismisses in such a violent way half of its artistic body? Which company, private or state, would want to link its name with an institution which gives the impression of truculence, violence and ill-treatment? Could it be that this debatable behaviour, to put it modestly, was discussed in advance with the city government, one of the main financial supporters of the orchestra? These questions, crucial for the survival of the institution, will have to pass throughout the heads of its administrators, all experts in economics and the rules of the market, at the risk of being judged as irresponsible and incompetent. An orchestra is not an investment bank, it is not a factory or a commercial company. It is certainly not necessary to explain again here the peculiarities and special sensitivities of a symphony orchestra. The risk that was run in letting this extremely tense situation overflow and hit the public with the violence with which it came, with its unprecedented and extremely serious international exposure, puts all those responsible for the institution, including its musical director, in the firing-line and obliges them to come up with clear and transparent explanations. The blame which will weigh on their shoulders, should it come to the destruction of one of our cultural icons is not easy to atone for. They should, however, to reflect on the future of the orchestra, if it succeeds somehow in coming through the highly serious trauma which has ben inflicted on its musical body. From the merely artistic point of view, it is doubtful if the maestro will be able to lead for the time being a group made up of musicians , the majority of whom are intimidated, humiliated, incensed and on the defensive. Who most probably, rightly or wrongly, will feel to blame for the precarious situation in which their dismissed colleagues find themselves, and who will be condemned by them to isolation destructive to their self-esteem. A maestro who will see himself required to present short-term qualitative results to a mistrustful public. A maestro who will have to fight for his rehabilitation in the minds of an entire professional class, which opposes his attitude head-on, not only in Brazil but abroad as well. Countless musicians, unions and orchestras from abroad have expressed themselves in a clear and incisive manner against the process established in the Carioca orchestra. His career is at risk. His name is at stake. It will not be easy to work under such circumstances. He will have in front of him an orchestra in pieces and incomplete. It will be urgently necessary to fill the ranks of the ensemble. Which good Brazilian musicians will present themselves at the auditions after what has happened recently? What guarantee do they have of respect and security at work? Where can foreign musicians of the necessary quality be found to fill the dozens of vacancies left by the dismissals? It is not acceptable to bring musicians of mediocre quality after the scandal of the sacking of so many competent musicians. These are some of the problems which will have to be confronted, and with urgency, by the artistic director of the OSB. There is however the no less serious economic problem to be confronted by the Foundation of the OSB. It has been said many times by the president of the council as well as by the artistic director that the salaries to be offered to those who take the auditions, and of course to the new members of the orchestra, will be comparable to or even higher than those paid at the moment by the OSESP. I am no longer exactly informed of the salaries of the São Paulo orchestra, but I imagine that these, duly adjusted, must be bordering on the 10.000 Reals for a rank and file musician. A contract of 10.000 Reals under the CLT costs the employer around 17.000 Reals a month. But let us not forget that the leaders (and there are two of them) of the orchestra earn around 18.000 (which will not be chess than 30.000 a month for the employer) and that the soloists of the various groups receive between 12 and 13.000 Reals a month (not less than 20.000 Reals a month for the employer). What guarantee does the OSB have that it will have an annual budget at its disposition which can cover these enormous personnel costs? There has never been transparency in the information concerning the financial "status" of the Foundation. A report of the economic activities of the OSB as never been published. It has never been known for certain how much money was collected by its marketing department, nor how this money was used or on what it was spent. All the information which circulated and circulates to this day about the budget, the acquired resources and the financial administration of the Foundation is obscure and approximate. Who guarantees that the OSB will have the sufficient means for the long-term or at least mid-term survival of its activities? Where will these resources come from? How can they risk bringing 40 new musicians into this nebulous reality? It is urgently necessary that the Council of the Foundation makes this information public in a clear and transparent manner so that the traumatic process that they have obliged the orchestra to pass through can have a minimum of credibility. What will the administrative structure of the orchestra be in a future like the one being proposed? Will we continue to have an OSB with its out-dated administrative structure hidden from the public? Will this grand renewal that is being announced be restricted to the musicians? This would lead to the injustices committed against the professionals of the orchestra being even more serious. Anyway, questions and more questions, doubts and even more doubts. Finally, there is another perspective of analysis for this question: what if everything works out for the best? Our economic reality, as I have commented several times, is favourable to long-term investments. There has not been, for decades, a more propitious moment than this for the creation of another OSESP, this time in Rio de Janeiro. And what if the OSB, in an administrative and artistic sleight of hand, transforms itself into a second great international orchestra in Brazil? This would confirm the moment of euphoria we are experiencing in the country and would put us on the map of symphonically important countries. In the present situation, it is difficult to have hope. If this hypothesis is confirmed, we will live through the battle of the traumatic process, we will continue to fight for the respect and dignity of our musicians, but some positive result will have come from this tsunami which has devastated our orchestra. If not, the crime will be capital and there will be no pardon.

John Neschling
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is no way of humanely justifying the summary dismissal of musicians who have been members of the orchestra for 20 or 30 years and who are obviously no longer at the height of their powers.

Ok, this is a quote, of a translation from the original. But, assuming that it is reasonably accurate, doesn't the "no longer at the height of their powers" admission indicate that perhaps there was at least some justification for this?

Are you really supposed to own your seat until you retire yourself out of it, even if you're playing isn't up to where it once was? Would you want that same practice applied to say, your heart surgeon?

I know it hasn't been handled well, I'm just playing devil's advocate a bit here, and wondering if it is in fact not reasonable to try to clean up an aging orchestra if this problem is becoming the norm, and not the exception for one or two positions only.
"Music is like candy, you throw the (w)rappers away."
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

J_Mase wrote:
This is why we need unions.

Precisely. I wish more people understood this.
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


CPO director speaks to Brazilian fracas


Reports surrounding the alleged dismissal of musicians from the Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira (Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, or OSB) in Rio de Janeiro are misrepresentations rooted in a misunderstanding of how things work in the world of Brazil's professional orchestras, says music director Roberto Minczuk, who is also music director of the Calgary Philharmonic.

"It's a very different situation -different laws, agreements and contracts," Minczuk says. "It's as different a situation as Brazil is a different country from Canada."

Earlier this year, the Brazilian orchestra's governing board of trustees (the OSB is run by a private foundation) agreed to a performance evaluation of the ensemble's approximately 80 musicians over a six-month period.

More than 40 of the players balked at the prospect of an evaluation.

They fought back through the courts, and lost.

A news release issued last week said that half the orchestra "was fired today."

"Forty-four of the 79 that composed the orchestra refused the conditions imposed by the artistic director and executed by its own orchestra foundation," the communique continued.

For Minczuk, what began as an initiative aimed at achieving a higher standard of artistic excellence for an orchestra that recently saw its budget jump from $3.7 million US to $20 million US has become an emotionally-charged legal issue.

"Musicians who are being dismissed are not (being dismissed) for artistic purposes, and not by my decision -but by the legal measures they were forced to take," says Minczuk.

"It's very hard to understand such resistance to something that is going to mean they're going to have the best salaries a musician can have (averaging $85,000 US per year)," he adds, noting that the orchestra will be moving into its new $400-million state-built concert hall next season.

Minczuk points out that performance evaluations (not to be confused with the one-time audition process) are intended to help musicians not only focus on improving the artistic details of their playing, but also to assess the condition of their instruments.

"I've always had music as the purpose for my work," Minczuk says. "This is not about power.

"This is about really making great music."


© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

This way of thinking is the same as comparing legal ramifications for committing adultery between Brazil and Iran. Does it make it truly correct to do certain things whether or not it is permitted legally in certain countries? Some places just haven't had the correct circumstances to fortify protective measures against obviously a throwback to orchestral life years ago. A time that nobody is interested in reliving. This has been a conceived ploy from the beginning to fire musicians one way or the other. Thankfully it wasn't that well conceived. There is too much evidence to really believe the BS that this guy is spewing, trying to play damage control to his image. Let's keep mobilized and get this snake out of our orchestras worldwide.
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