Vienna Symphony Under Fire for Sacking Korean Flautist

      August 12, 2013 12:05

      Choi Na-kyung

      The departure of Choi Na-kyung, also called Jasmin Choi as principal flautist of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra at the end of her probation period has raised accusations of racism and sexism against the world-famous ensemble.

      Choi told British music critic Norman Lebrecht on Friday, "I do admit that many colleagues questioned my trial year, mostly because of the things that I could not change -- being a foreigner, Asian, female, principal position, studied in the United States, never lived in Europe, never studied in Vienna, etc."

      Choi was voted out by 66 votes to 47 by the members of the orchestra. "I was also told that in this orchestra’s entire 113-year history, I am only the second musician to be out after their trial year, following the exit of a concertmaster who happened to be a female Japanese a few years back."

      But the orchestra's Johannes Neubert, general manager of the orchestra, disputed Choi's claim by saying, “We cannot say for sure how many musicians have not passed their trial years in the course of the 113 years of the orchestra's history. However, what we can say is that in the past two decades or so there were many more musicians who did not pass their trial years," mostly Austrian.

      Neubert added, "As in the case of all other employments, we advertised the position internationally, auditioned and hired the best candidate with a one-year contract. If there is no positive voting from the orchestra, the contract expires automatically at the end of the trial year. The voting is always anonymous and supervised both by the musicians committee and the management, in order to make sure, that everything is correct. This is common procedure in almost all orchestras we know."

      Choi was associate principal flautist for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 2006 until Vienna called in April 2012.

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