Members of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) yesterday accused the NSO's board of directors and the National Chiang Kai Shek Cultural Center's National Theater and National Concert Hall (NTCH) of manipulating what they called an "unfair professional evaluation" that led to 10 of them getting fired.
The NSO is the product of the Ministry of Education's (MOE) constant efforts in promoting music education and cultural development as well as enhancing public artistic initiatives and has a history of 20 years.
After the NTCH was officially reconstructed as an "executive juridical body" -- organized by a board of directors and supervised by the MOE from March 1 last year -- and merged with the NSO, an evaluation of the NSO musicians was conducted.
Helene Hsu (
"At first we were only informed that we were dismissed without being told the reason," Hsu said at a press conference yesterday.
The musicians involved felt distressed and confused and decided to contact the foreign judges themselves, Hsu said.
According to a letter shown to the media and signed by John Ferrillo, the BSO principal oboe player, he thought all the NSO's members were qualified for their positions.
"I feel that my comments were constructive and certainly not a suggestion that anyone should be fired," Ferrillo said in his letter to Hsu.
Another judge, BSO principal flute player Elizabeth Rowe, stated in her letter, also shown to the media, that she was very clear in her judgement that all of the flutists were doing a good job and that she didn't see any reason to make changes to the flute section.
Hsu said she and other colleagues who had been dismissed had felt astonished by the move but had never received any explanation, apparently because evaluation rules dictate that the results should be kept a secret, even to those who had been evaluated.
"We ask for our unfair dismissals to be made public since it's an insult to our professionalism and reputation. It's also a violation of the right to work, as protected in the Constitution," Hsu said.
The musicians also appealed to the MOE and NTCH to draw up a set of reasonable and impartial evaluation rules.
A representative from the MOE's Department of Social Education said yesterday the reason they had invited foreign experts to conduct the evaluations was to avoid the possibility of the evaluators and the evaluated having had previous personal links.
He said that the final result of the evaluation did not only depend on the recommendations of the foreign musicians but also on NSO members' past performance as well as the function, needs and future development of the orchestra.
The official promised to discuss the matter with the board of directors on July 19 and further give individual explanations to the dismissed musicians before the NSO's new contracts are signed on July 25.