Saturday March 3, 2012
Disharmony in orchestra
By WANI MUTHIAH
PETALING JAYA: The sound of disharmony is reverberating through the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) following its restructuring exercise, with those asked to leave claiming that the termination of their contracts was uncalled for.
Several musicians given the six-month notice to leave at the end of this season are key expatriate members who have been with the MPO since it was set up in 1998.
A founding member, who declined to be named, said his contract was terminated without explanation.
“My employer has chosen not to renew my contract and I have not been given a reason,” said the musician, claiming that such a move was unprecedented.
A Facebook page called “Save Our Malaysian Orchestra” has been set up while British music commentator and novelist Norman Lebrecht also questioned MPO's move in his blog Slipped Disc.
There are allegations that those asked to leave had wanted the orchestra's music director Claus Peter Flor out. There is also speculation that the expatriates were removed to bring in locals to give MPO a Malaysian identity.
It is also learnt that the decision to renew or end a contract is made by MPO based on the music director's advice.
When contacted, MPO marketing assistant director Mufidah Mahmud said all musicians with the orchestra were employed on a fixed-term contract basis.
“The renewal is subject to the MPO management's decision in consultation with its music director,” she said, confirming that a six-month notice was issued as required under the contract terms.
MPO belongs to Petronas.
Petronas board member Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas said it did not have much experience when it came to music as it was not its “core business”.
“We have to rely on other people to manage it. Sometimes, we feel that we are being led up the garden path' by some people because of this,” he said.