Help sacked MPO players to fight their case at court!

A Malaysian court has tweaked the law to deny basic rights to seven foreign players who were summarily dismissed by the Malaysian Philharmonic, as reported earlier. The orchestra remains under an international musicians boycott.

This appeal comes from one of the disenfranchised seven. Please support this appeal if you can and forward this message.

“I am one of the seven musicians fired three years ago by the Malaysian Philharmonic. After an interminably long wait, the judge has finally delivered her verdict: despite our many years of dedicated work with the orchestra, including long service bonuses and contractual retirement clauses, and despite our unblemished employment records, we were all in fact fixed-term, temporary employees, and had no right to expect continued employment. She decided that the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra had every right to terminate our employment at the end of our current contracts, without giving any notice or reason.

From all the legal advice we have since received, and the case readings we have done, this decision goes completely against the Malaysian Industrial Relations Act, and against just about every precedent that has been set by previous cases. If allowed to stand unchallenged, it will affect every current and future employee of the Malaysian Philharmonic, and seems to give Malaysian employers the right to terminate any employee at will as long as they have implied their “intention” to use a fixed-term contract. Up until this case, under Malaysian law, the burden of proof was always on the employer to establish that the recourse to the fixed-term engagement of the workers was genuinely related to their establishment or undertaking. That appears to be the case no longer.

We believe that an injustice has been done, and are determined to exhaust all of our options to make it right. The legal fees involved are substantial, however, and all of us have had our future earning potential severely affected by our dismissals. To that end, we have established a fundraising campaign to help our supporters contribute, and would like to invite your readers to participate.

Donations can be made anonymously, and we pledge to be completely transparent with the use of those funds, and with our progress. Everything we receive will go to our legal fund, and at the end of the case, if we win a monetary award, we will either return your donation to you in full (if you wish), or make a lump sum donation of the full amount collected to a worthy youth orchestra.”

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How ‘off’ is time off? Musicians creativity beyond the collective

The daily routine of an orchestra musician tends to be both crammed and regimented – yet even so, many are still preoccupied with music after work. You may ask whether this fascination is purely enthusiasm, or whether it reflects a creative deficit in the workaday experience – a deficit that many musicians try to balance by doing ‘their own thing’ during their time off.

Off time engagement: orchestra musician conducts brass band

Off time engagement: orchestra musician conducts brass band

Such activities can be directly music-related, e.g. playing in a chamber orchestra. But the links may also be more lateral, as other examples illustrate, such as music education and outreach, or even political activities to combat cuts to cultural budgets. Sometimes these extra efforts are appreciated by colleagues, sometimes they are regarded more as a private diversion. Professional input is also crucial for many amateur ensembles (of which there are thousands in many countries). Whether a school orchestra or a small local symphonic ensemble it is rarely the remuneration (if any) that motivates professional musicians, but the pleasure of making music, motivating others and doing something beyond the confines of a professional orchestra. Music education and outreach are perhaps among the most important ‘off time’ engagements that musicians can take on.

Of course there are political and civil aspects of ‘off time’ musical engagement: this can take many forms – from promoting a particular instrument (as done by the Confédération Internationale des Accordionists, which organized a 24-hour internet broadcast of accordion pieces) to fundraising for charitable causes to political protest.

What is the main task for the orchestra management in this context? How is it possible to create an atmosphere in which musicians can develop their artistic skills for themselves as well as for the whole orchestra organization? Peaceful cooperation and communication between management and musicians creates an atmoshpere of understanding and trust. This is the most healthy environment for future success. The orchestra should support musicians off time activities, because they will benefit the organization, too.

Orchestra management is a great issue!

Dear colleagues worldwide: We all love to work in the orchestra field. It’s a thrilling expierience to sit in the concert hall or an opera house, to hear an orchestra, ensemble and soloists performing great materpieces of music under the baton of a congenius maestro. And it’s a great feeling too, when you hear the applauding and cheering audience. When you know that the musicians and the management have done a good job.
But doing a good job means to run your business on a highly developed professional level. And there are so many issues and challenges we face worldwide. The most important are 1. developing our audiences, 2. showing people that we are relevant to them and their lifes and 3. balancing our budgets.
Let’s share expieriences,views and challenges on these and other interesting issues!