Re-auditions: A wrong tool for orchestras

From time to time the re-audition virus breaks out in the professional orchestra world. The latest cases were those at the Symphony Orchestra of Brazil, the Malaysian Philharmonic  Orchestra and the Korean Broadcasting System Symphony Orchestra in 2012.

Internat. Orchestra Conference in Oslo, Febr. 2014: No re-auditions!

Internat. Orchestra Conference in Oslo, Febr. 2014: No re-auditions!

But there were earlier examples: Back in the early 1970s the Rotterdam Philharmonic management and its chief conductor decided to improve the orchestra’s quality through re-auditions. When in the 1980s three Dutch orchestras merged in the Netherlands Philharmonic, re-auditions also took place.

In Germany, shortly after the peaceful reunification in the early 1990s, some conductors in the new federal states started to try selecting a couple of musicians by re-auditions. But these attempts failed due to legal restrictions: In German law and in our national or single collective bargaining agreements an audition may only take place before the musician is employed for the first time, before he or she enters the orchestra. The issue of a re-audition is not regulated in any collective bargaining agreement for orchestras in Germany. Therefore no musician could be forced to take part in a re-audition. And even if he would participate in a re-audition process, there would be no negative consequences. A poor re-audition performance could never be a reason for dismissal.

If you analyze the re-audition cases of the past you will always find the argument from the management or the conductor to improve the orchestra’s quality. This means in concrete: at least dismissals or pink slips for musicians who don’t meet artistic standards, which are only in the brain of the orchestra manager or conductor. And this means too: despotism and unfair methods to kick musicians out of their jobs.

On the other hand: which are the most successful orchestras in the world? Everybody could name ten or more famous national and international widely recognized orchestras. And one can bet: none of these orchestras do have a re-audition system.

The truth is: every rehearsal, every concert, every recording session with the orchestra is a “re-audition” itself for every musician who has to perform on top-level. However, many musicians say that you don’t perform for the audience, but you perform for the orchestra colleagues. There is no stronger artistic control and social pressure as in the orchestra sections themselves.

To sum up: whenever the management or the conductor of a professional symphony orchestra tries to promote the re-audition issue, this may be an evidence for the inadequate leadership skills of these people and not an evidence for a poor artistic performance of musicians. Re-audition remains to be a wrong tool.


OSB – Agreement sealed

What an announcement from the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra (OSB) management!

“The OSB Foundation and the Musicians Union last Friday, September 02, reached an agreement that puts an end to the impasse of recent months, culminating in the dismissal of 33 musicians. After several rounds of negotiation between the OSB Artistic Directors, Fernando Bicudo and Pablo Castellar, and the SindMusi President, Déborah Cheyne, both parties jointly prepared a document that offers musicians conditions to return to the FOSB in a new orchestral body or have the conversion of their dismissals for cause in common dismissals.” Read more

An unique battle between a conductor, the orchestra management, public authorities and the orchestra musicians has come to an happy end. The question will be, how fast the parties of the conflict will use a new start for real improvements.

OSB conflict – Solution on the way?

Under the big public and international pressure the management of the Orquestra Sinfonica  Brasileira (OSB) has now made a first step towards the dismissed musicians and the local union.  On July 26 the two new artistic directors have made an official three-point-proposal    how to solve the conflict and how to reintegrate the 33 dismissed musicians.

This proposal could be the basis for a solution, but at the end it is not yet  the solution. The proposed new „Art Body“, a new ensemble with the dismissed musicians, has no real structure, no duties, not a realistic staff setting which an ensemble with future would need. This is not a perspective everybody can be convinced of. There has to be a fair bargaining process on the basis of the proposal within the next few days now. The aim should be to reintegrate as many musicians as possible and to have a fresh start for the whole OSB organization.

Perhaps an independant committee or working group should accompany the next few month to work on the conflicts within the orchestra and those between musicians and management. The next step could be to survey the whole OSB management structure. Otherwise the OSB foundation and the orchestra will face dire straits.

Kurt Masur cancels OSB concerts

Kurt Masur is an expierienced and wise conductor. It seems that he has become aware of the artistic risks to rehearse and perform with “New” OSB which is not the same as the old OSB.

As already assumed earlier in the last post, Maestro Masur has now obviously cancelled his appearance with the OSB.This cancellation is another blast for conductor Roberto Minczuk and his OSB management. It should be only a question of time and more public and political pressure to dismiss people in charge from the management and to lead the OSB on the right way into future.