Union Protests OSB Auditions

Volume 111, No. 7/8July, 2011

Karen Fisher

As a demonstration of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Brazil, Local 802 recently participated in the international protests against the Orquestra Symphônica Braziliera (OSB) auditions. The NYC auditions took place May 20 to 23 at Carroll Studios.

In March, the orchestra fired 36 of its 82 musicians – many of them longtime members – after they refused to take part in assessment auditions required by the orchestra’s conductor, Roberto Minczuk. We asked our members not to participate in these auditions because accepting an offer of employment with the OSB would mean that they would be replacing musicians who were unfairly dismissed from their jobs.

OSB came to New York City after holding auditions in Rio de Janeiro and London, where the London Musicians Union had also demonstrated.

The orchestra’s management anticipated our presence, and distributed a six-page document to auditioning musicians outlining the controversy from their point of view.

Over the four days of auditions, fewer than 20 musicians showed up. Most were from out of town. All but one or two had previously heard about the controversy. The majority appeared to be very young, recent graduates or students, who were taking the audition for the experience. Those we spoke with did not seem to be seriously interested in accepting a job with the orchestra.

Local 802 musician Laurie Friedman helped protest the auditions. She told Allegro, “It was my obligation to go to the Brazilian Orchestra auditions to protest the gall of a dictatorial conductor…enough is enough!”

Thanks to all members and staff who volunteered their time for this endeavor.