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Home » Recent News » Renewed Call for Boycott of Malaysian Orchestra Auditions

Renewed Call for Boycott of Malaysian Orchestra Auditions


While the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) continues to advertise internationally for its auditions, musicians are cautioned to steer clear of this symphony known for its egregious contract violations. The boycott began in 2012 when nine key musicians—among them the concertmaster, co-concertmaster, tutti first violin, tutti first viola, principal timpani, and principal trombone—were suddenly terminated. While no reason was given, it is suspected that it was an intimidation tactic before presenting the remaining musicians with a new contract that they were asked to sign and return within a few days.

Aside from trying to hire replacement musicians under far-inferior contracts (working for 25% less in some cases and two-year posts with “no expectation of renewal”), the symphony has since committed more assaults on worker rights. In order to take unpaid leave (for performances, auditions, etc.), not only do musicians lose salary, but they are required to pay expenses (air travel, accommodations, and salary) for the sub. At the start of the 2014/2015 season, members returned to a contract that redefines “legitimate” children for the purpose of benefits. Children from common-law marriages are no longer provided visas, health insurance, school subsidies, etc. This included two 16-year principal wind players who have a child together. They went as far as to tell the mother that she is no longer recognized by MPO as the child’s legal guardian.

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