A large number of musicians of Sichuan Symphony Orchestra (SCSO) are being purged by its management.
In a latest development which caused a sensation on the social media last week of escalating tensions within the divided orchestra, around 42% of its musicians are immediately replaced following an audition carried out in March. Some of the musicians claimed that the audition was secretive and unfair while the management together with Mr Darrell Ang, SCSO’s incoming Singaporean artistic director, insisted the audition “legal and justified” and “video and audio taped throughout”. They said in a statement that musicians were replaced because they are “unqualified”.
Several musicians being replaced said that the jury, chaired by Darrell Ang, were single handedly picked by him from Singapore. A previous plan to engage a third party jury from Shanghai was dropped as the last minute, according to a source spoke on condition of anonymity.
A total 48 orchestra musicians participated in the orchestra’s annual assessment, in addition to 40 candidates for auditioning. 7 musicians were not offered a new contract, 12 musicians were assigned to office or cleric work, one chose to quit. That means 20 musicians, with an average age of 33, were immediately removed from the chairs, or 42% of the tutti, unprecedented in Chinese orchestras in the past decade.
Musicians also pointed out that new recruits are offered much higher salary than them, which might have constituted a violation of equal pay for equal job.
Darrell Ang was appointed artistic director of Sichuan Symphony Orchestra in December 2016 with an initial contract for three years, as part of its revitalisation plan with help from Singapore Symphony Orchestra. SCSO is a provincial orchestra of Sichuan province. It was founded in 2002 and was located in its provincial capital Chengdu.