Help the OSB!

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by gael, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. Dear bassists friends,

    some news from Rio de Janeiro, where my colleagues from the Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira are suffering tremendous pression. You'll find all informations in the documents below. I play in another orchestra, namely Orquestra Petrobras Sinfônica. The support to our colleagues is really strong in Brazil and abroad. I am very proud of my 8 colleagues from the bass group of OSB, for they all boycotted the audition.

    One other aspect of this question is that auditions are planned for the OSB in May, to take place in London and New York. OK, everyone is free, but it would be wise to think about solidarity, and if not, at least possible huge problems of integration in this orchestra, due to the chaotic situation! Today there are 13 jobs offered, which would be of great help to the current members of the orchestra who are working a lot. But after this enormous crash, one may expect for more positions to be offered. Please note that there was initially no vacancy for double-bass: if some double-bass position is offered until May, it will mean that someone has been fired.

    Thank you all!

    Gael Lhoumeau

    To whom it may concern

    One of the leading orchestras in the world, Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira is being dismantled in the most scandalous, shameful and rarely seen, if ever, manner. Its members, artists of the highest caliber, and a constantly growing number of music professionals around the world, including some of the top names in the music industry are all seriously concerned about this highly unprecedented situation. Refusing a solution of facility, facing a mounting pressure and intimidation , the OSB musicians decided to stand up in defense of their convictions by staging a powerful protest against their musical director Roberto Minczuk and the OSB administration, massively followed by Brazilian and international music lovers. The embattled musicians, acting with the most exemplary courage, dignity and integrity need every support they can get to pursue their legitimate struggle. Please help by signing and circulating their petition available online:

    Abaixo-assinado Moção de repúdio às ações da administração da Fundação OSB contra seus músicos e pelo restabelecimento da temporada completa da OSB

    Thank you.

    Jozef Kapustka, pianist

    English translation of the original message:

    OSB managers, stop harassing OSB musicians and immediately reinstate the full professional orchestra in the first half of the 2011 season!

    This is a public petition to be submitted to the OSB Foundation Board of Trustees and OSB sponsors: BNDES (National Bank for Social and Economic Development), Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (Vale do Rio Doce Corporation) and Prefeitura Municipal do Rio de Janeiro (Government of the City of Rio de Janeiro).
    We, the undersigned, regular audience and subscribers of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra (OSB), one of the most important and highly respected musical institutions in the country, hereby vehemently protest against the actions perpetrated by the Executive Management of the OSB Foundation and its Artistic Director, Mr. Roberto Minczuk against its orchestral body: all members of the ensemble have been required to take part in reauditions for the same orchestral positions they currently hold, as if they were first time job applicants at the OSB. According to both conductor and administration, this procedure was devised as part of a restructuring project of the orchestra they intend to implement (cf. Roberto Minczuk » Revista » Edição nº 2337 » VEJA Rio Brazilian Facebook protest - the conductor explains - Slipped disc). This plan, however, has been highly criticized and condemned by most professionals in the field, many of whom among the most highly respected both in the national and international musical arena, as one can see in numerous texts published on the internet, such as the ones found in the links below:
    Comissão de Músicos da OSB
    Message to Brazil from the German orchestras: stop it, right now - Slipped disc
    Brazil - cri de coeur aux musiciens du monde - Slipped disc
    Brazil Facebook protest - the burning questions - Slipped disc

    A series of unacceptable consequences can already be felt as the result of this restructuring project; they are facts that we, OSB audience and subscribers, must speak out against:
    1- The removal of the professional orchestra from half the season’s concerts and the abusive, unethical and unpedagogic situation the OSB Youth Orchestra has been compelled to face since its young musicians have been scheduled to replace the major orchestra in the series traditionally performed by OSB, including the opening concert of the season.
    2- The lack of professional respect for both novice and tenured musicians, who have already been punished with suspensions from the job, without pay, for refusing to participate in the so-called “performance evaluation” process, and the threat of dismissal due to gross misconduct if they are absent again from the reauditions.
    3- The clearly unilateral and despotic attitude on the part of the FOSB managers when, three days into the musicians’ collective vacation, the Foundation sent them a letter informing all musicians that an evaluation process would be held: this was done without any input from the musicians or their representatives. The refusal, on the part of the administration of the orchestra, to engage in dialogue and negotiation, preconditions for a sound professional relationship in any free and democratic society, is further evidenced by recent events: not a single representative of the OSB Foundation attended a scheduled meeting with the OSB musicians’ representatives and the Musicians’ Union at the Brazilian Labor Ministry on March 10.
    4- The plans for hiring musicians for the positions already open and for the ones that will be created after the mass dismissal of tenured musicians: auditions are planned to be held abroad (i.e. in London and New York) before residents in Brazil are given the opportunity to audition, as published in the OSB official site. It is very sad to see that this plan reveals a disdainful attitude towards musicians who currently live and work in Brazil. That is how the FOSB administration and Mr Minczuk plan to transform OSB into a “truly” international orchestra.

    We, therefore, demand an immediate reversal of the situation presented in this document by requesting that both parties (musicians on one hand and FOSB and Mr Minczuk on the other) sit down and start a dialogue before our beloved OSB is fully disintegrated. The country cannot do without a traditional institution such as this, which has always been in the forefront of the battle towards the promotion and enhancement of classical music in Brazil and which has been source of so many moments of sheer beauty, art and joy for the last seventy years.

    We, the undersigned, forward this public petition to the Board of Trustees of the OSB Foundation and the orchestra’s main partners and sponsors (BNDES, Vale do Rio Doce and Prefeitura do Rio de Janeiro) in high hopes that they intervene to help promote understanding between both parties involved so that a harmonious and fair outcome may be reached.

    How to sign the OSB petition in Petição Pública Brasil website

    Hello everyone! This is a simple guide to sign the OSB petition in Petição Pública Brasil website. Unfortunately, this website is only in Portuguese. So, I translated to English for all the people over the world could sign it.

    Best reagards,

    Luísa de Castro
    Violinist, Orquestra Sinfônica Nacional


    Abaixo-assinado Moção de repúdio às ações da administração da Fundação OSB contra seus músicos e pelo restabelecimento da temporada completa da OSB

    How to sign the petition:

    1 - At the end of the petition/motion you should click on the following statement:

    “Assinar o abaixo-assinado Moção de repúdio às ações da administração da Fundação OSB contra seus músicos e pelo restabelecimento da temporada completa da OSB”

    This statement means: Sing the petition 'OSB management, stop harassing OSB musicians and immediately reinstate the full professional orchestra in the first half of the 2011 season'

    2 – After your click, a new window will open requesting your personal data:

    -Nome completo (obrigatório):
    {Full name (required):
    -Email (obrigatório):
    {E-mail (required):
    -Cidade (obrigatório):
    {City (required):
    -Cep (facultativo):
    {Zip Code (optional):
    -Data de Nascimento (facultativo):
    {Date of Birth (optional):
    -Comentários (facultativo):
    {Comments (optional):
    -*Privacidade do endereço de Email: ( ) Privado
    ( ) Disponível para o Autor do Abaixo-assinado
    ( ) Público
    {*Email identification privacy: ( ) Private
    ( ) Available to the author of the petition
    ( ) Public

    -( ) Não me importo que o Petição Pública Brasil me contate para campanhas ou abaixo-assinados do mesmo género.
    ( ) I allow Petição Pública do Brasil to contact me for petitions or campaigns of the same nature

    *"Privado": Seu email é guardado num local privado e seguro e utilizado apenas para validar sua assinatura.
    "Disponível para o Autor do Abaixo-assinado": Seu email não é público, apenas pode ser visualizado pelo autor do abaixo-assinado. Seu email é também guardado num local privado e seguro e apenas utilizado para validar sua assinatura.
    "Público": Público significa que qualquer pessoa que navegue no site do abaixo-assinado poderá ver seu email e também enviar-lhe um email.
    {* “Private”: Your email is archived in a private and safe place and used just to validate your signature;
    “Available to the author of the petition”: Your email isn’t public but can be shown to the author of the petition. Your email is archived in a private and safe place and used to validate your signature.
    “Public”: Public means that anyone who enters in the petition website can see your email and can send you an email too.

    After you fill out your personal data, you should click on:

    “Assinar Abaixo-Assinado”

    {Sing the petition}

    3- After that you will receive an email to confirm your signature. Click on the link provided in the message, similar to the following:
    Petição Pública Brasil Confirmação

    Norman Lebrecht

    Auditions will take place in May in London, NYC and Rio.
    13 jobs were offered before the massive dismissal which occured recently. [/B]Now 33 positions are offered, inclusive 2 positions for double-bass, to replace sacked musicians.

    Please, in any case, don't take part to these auditions, NOT NOW!!! And if you do, be aware of possible complications. Consider following points: the salary possibly is not that annouced in some newspapers. Reprobation is worldwide. The orchestra is not playing anymore, and there is doubt if it will play its first concert as announed in June. Director Minczuk is facing difficulties in his jobs as a guest conductor, like in Liverpool where he is scheduled this month. He already had a concert cancelled in Salt Lake City.

  3. grundley


    Sep 5, 2007
    Boise, Idaho
    STOP WHINING!!!! I can't believe your orchestra is getting so much attention. You're lucky AND will most likely get some really fantastic players from the over-done press.

    Fact is... this should happen more in orchestras across the world. Not every player who's been there for 30 years deserves to have their position still. Wouldn't it be great if this happened in the states?! At least then people would 'try' to keep up some chops.
  4. derob


    Feb 27, 2009
    Lametown, MN
    Raises an interesting point for sure, and the proverbial dong swings both ways.

    In every orchestra I've played in and even watching concerts of orchestra like new york, cleveland, philly there seem to be a few old farts who clearly can't play their instruments at an undergraduate level and you can seem their strokes and articulations standing out against the rest of a unified section (Something I'm sure never occurs in the Idaho all state orchestra :rollno:)

    At the same time, playing in a section is a whole different can o worms than playing excerpts alone and if you have a job then you probably have a family, students and things to do other than practice 6 hours a day. I know if I was a tenured musician in an orchestra and had to reaudition for my own job I would call shenanigans. Like these guys:

    YouTube - Bye, bye, Minczuk! Viva a OSB!

  5. grundley


    Sep 5, 2007
    Boise, Idaho

    Those people are clapping out of DIS-RESPECT! jajaja
  6. Alexbrasa


    Aug 28, 2008
    STOP WHINING!!!! I can't believe your orchestra is getting so much attention. You're lucky AND will most likely get some really fantastic players from the over-done press.

    Fact is... this should happen more in orchestras across the world. Not every player who's been there for 30 years deserves to have their position still. Wouldn't it be great if this happened in the states?! At least then people would 'try' to keep up some chops.

    That was very unpolite! I am a sacked OSB musician who refused to do this bloody test. Maybe you intend to do the audditions in NY... If you do so, you can be sure that when you arrive in Rio you will find only bad looks from ALL the musical community here. And maybe you will do not even last so long... the orquestra is now under invastigation of public ministry for suspicious use of public money...
  7. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    I don't understand... Why not audition? How do we know you can play?
    I have seen dead weight in orchestras and people that are faking. And people that have very poor intonation etc.
    I don't understand why these musicians refuse to audition.
  8. Alexbrasa


    Aug 28, 2008
    in the case of the dead weigth (you are probably talking about old people), they may no longer play well enough to survive an audition wich is strictly equal to the ones we do when we enter the job, but when it comes to the real job of playing the bass in an orchestra (long notes, supporting role, playing with the sound of the section, get used to the material, styles, counting bars, etc) they are the ones that never fail. Listen carefully, when somebody plays in the pauses (it happens even in the best ensembles) he/she are usualy young. When the old people (lets speak without euphemism) got to old, they should be retired, preferably with a concert as homage. They should not be submited to a reaudittion and then dismissed as incompetent.
    In the case of people between 30 to 45 years, case of, I guess, 70% of OSB, including the conductor, because they have careers that stand up for them, had been already auditioned when they where acepted and because of the simple fact that they ask the board to pull out the musical director some two years ago, under the claim of misconduction (SRZD | Acirra-se a crise na OSB | Notícia | Rio+ , please translate with google). Ask someone of a major symphony in USA if he will reaudition...I doubt she/he will answer yes.
    In the case of the newer musicians, because they just auditioned. I mean, we have people that auditioned to OSB in the last five years, under the conductor...there are cases of musicians that made 3 auditions in less then one year!

    From the begining, the plan of the board was to sack musicians and hire people from abroad. They cannot refuse any conditions the OSB impose, otherwise they will have their visa cancealed.
    There are some serious assumptions here that involve politics, politicians the law, public money, not musical at all.
    This auditions wasnt about music, they where about business and money, lots of it.
  9. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    Ok, sure I think I get it...
    Although when I say "dead weight" I don't mean older people. Unfortunately there are a number of reasons why people might not be able to practice or prepare for a concert.
    I think you are right about the experience that older members of the Orchestra have, although I must also say, I have seen endless times older members of Orchestras playing during pauses on pieces that they have played a lot.
    I have heard that in the US Orchestra members will have to audition every 3 years, and in some cases every year!
    Oh well, whatever it is, this a very unfortunate situation with the OSB.
  10. Alexbrasa


    Aug 28, 2008
    Yes, it is...
    I am not against evaluation processes, but what is happening now on that orchestra is just crazyness.:scowl:
  11. grundley


    Sep 5, 2007
    Boise, Idaho
    You're so right Alex! It was completely insensitive and rude to every player who chose not to play and was inevitably canned.

    Of course, you could have just practiced a little,played the audition, and kept your job (it's not the Cleveland Orchestra)!

    Were these 'auditions' a one time only thing? Do you think this standard will kept for the future? I think it is.

    BTW, dead-weight refers to those who can no longer play their instrument at a 'professional' level. Could be old or young. What difference does it make???
  12. ekspain


    Feb 22, 2008
    There shouldn't be re-auditions, as such, and older players shouldn't be sacked. I believe to maintain level, all orchestra members should take part in chamber music, and a min. number of practice hours should be mandatory. In my orchestra, alot of the older folks, and even some not so old ones, don't quite keep their chops together. But at the same time, I understand, when it comes to family life, etc...these demands don't allow the same intensity of work ethic as one may have in their youth, or at the conservatory stage. importance shifts from music, to other things. Even tragic events, like death, or even a break-up, can cause this shift.
    About the OSB, really sorry to hear whats going on over there. You are not alone, as you probably know. Here in Europe, there are also quite a number of orchestras closing or going bankrupt, or suffering from corrupt management, etc....They're killing our art.
    For the moment, my job seems stable, but as events have illustrated, things can change in a seconds notice. Hang in there, and I wish you the best.
  13. mattgray


    Nov 16, 2007
    Cincinnati, OH
    I hope that everyone in the OSB (or 'former members') holds firm to their beliefs and doesn't give in to the management/conductor, and succeeds at getting their due. Every orchestra member has rights, and from what this sounds like is tyranny.
  14. Alexbrasa


    Aug 28, 2008
    Thank you guys! As grundley says, it will be much easier to do the reaudition than stand firm in our position of refuse to work in conditions that are against the orchestral standard. Although I think some of us could play like Bozo and do not pass, because the conductor are in revenge mode.
    Keep an eye on him! Roberto Minczuk has been doing serious damages to the musical life in Brazil for a while. We are now doing protest-concerts with the sacked musicians and sympathizers (who, fortunately aralmost all of our community), will boycott the auditions that will be held to hire new musicians to fill our places, next week here in Rio and got to get an intervention from the public ministry (prosecutor in USA?), because are strong suspicions of maladministration.

    We stand firm in our struggle here. I suppose it is for the sake of our profession. Although things like that had been seen in latin america from time to time (we have in OSB five chileans that come from an orchestra that was treated like this; it also happened in México, Colombia and Argentina's Theatro Colón), we never know when powerful people will get mad and try to change things for the worst. Fortunately, USA and various european countries has strong unions and laws that protect musicians and are even supporting us...

    But, Ekspain, let me tell you: We now are in pain for the lack of commitment of not fight a situation that was suspicious in the past. That, if not made of us connive with the matter, gave time to the evil growth and get strong.
    Be carefull in your orchestra and do not let even the slightest wrong procedure go on! In OSB everything begun witha disrespect to our list with the names suggested for the post of music director ... the board of trustees appointed a bad conductor, and this is what happened ...
  15. triscuitbass


    Apr 7, 2008
    This is quite a complicated issue.

    How did the orchestra sound before the firings?

    Why did only less than half of the orchestra get fired? Did the majority of the group actually do the audition and keep their jobs?

    Also this really is part of a larger issue of how to deal with older people in orchestras. Everyone should have a right to keep their positions until 65, but what to do with them as their skills inevitably worsen in those final years?

    All school teachers in the US have to be evaluated at least once a year. Can you imagine if the teachers just refused to do this? So then how can musicians (both groups are union keep in mind) refuse to do this?

    So before I can support these sacked musicians I need some of these questions answered. Also I would need more info about the negotiations leading up to the auditions. Did the musicians refuse outright? What was asked for the re-audition? Did the musicians say they would participate under mutually agreed conditions?
  16. Alexbrasa


    Aug 28, 2008
    Ok Triscuitbass, lets see:
    As to how the orchestra sounded, I'm suspect to talk, because I played with this ensemble for 13 years and it has been my goal since I began studying bass. The OSB is the most traditional symphonic ensemble in the country, with 70 years of its foundation. For their ranks have musicians such as Antonio Menezes, to name just a name that is known worldwide.
    Important Brazilian composers like Claudio Santoro and Cesar Guerra-Peixe, among others, played and composed for us. Citing the orchestra's website:
    "The history of OSB were composed by contribution of great musicians and conductors such as Eleazar de Carvalho and Isaac Karabtchevsky. Besides having revealed names such as Nelson Freire, Arnaldo Cohen and Antonio Meneses, OSB also said in his history with the collaboration of some of the greatest artists of the twentieth century: Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Kurt Sanderling, Arthur Rubinstein, Martha Argerich, Kurt Masur, Claudio Arrau, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jean-Pierre Rampal and Jose Carreras, among others. Since 2005 The orchestra has the artistic direction of Maestro Roberto Minczuk and is receiving in his concerts musicians as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Joshua Bell and Ivo Pogorelich. " Heitor Villa-Lobos conducted the OSB several times.
    As for the older musicians, I think I said what I think above: They should be gradually retired and honored, but never submitted to a test of these and humiliated before being fired.
    As for your example of teachers who make regular assessments, I must say that the situation here was very different, since you are not talking about a regular and spected tests routine. We received a letter on the first day of our vacation (January 7) in calling for a test after two months. A proof of this kind had never been done before and there was no discussion on how to do it or what criteria to base it, nor any prior notice. The direction of the orchestra only contacted for further information 15 days before the exams and did nothing to diminish the climate of insecurity. One of the things we thought we'd see would just increase the time for us to prepare and we could get used to the idea and study alternatives.
    Another thing: more than half of the musicians did NOT proof. The orchestra had 82 members, 44 did'nt show .Of the 38 who did, 15 were foreigners and had no other option because they needed the job to remain in the country. Of the Brazilians who have taken the test, four refused to continue working with the OSB in these conditions. Today the orchestra is not working at all and music community in Brazil, perplexed.
    Norman Lebrecth's blog (Slipped Disc) has a lot of information about the process in english, just in case you guys want to know a little more and follow the outcome...
  17. Alexbrasa


    Aug 28, 2008
    I forgott to put some links of the orchestra playing:

    YouTube - ‪Roberto Tibiriçá e Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira em ensaio‬‏

    YouTube - ‪Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira - OSB‬‏

    OSB tends to sound better when Minczuk is not conducting. Apparently, when he sacked 14 musicians on christmas eve on 2006, the sound of the orchestra became very frightened and seemed contrite. Altough, it was developing because of the rising salaries and the coming of some great fellows. Until the last carnage...
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