In an article on Wednesday, Daily Review reported on a turnover of 27 administrative and management staff at the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. The unusually high turnover is in little more than 18 months which has seen entire departments resign or sacked is revealed in the QSO’s own publications online.
Daily Review approached QSO for comment five weeks ago and after repeated requests was told by its media manager that the CEO David Pratt would not be commenting.
In the interim, Daily Review spoke to former staff who talked of QSO’s ‘toxic culture’ (some of those who were sacked reached agreements with management requiring them to sign non-disparagement clauses preventing them from speaking about their situation).
But finally yesterday the QSO commented with its chair Greg Wanchap telling the classical music publication Limelight that: “The story published in [yesterday’s] Daily Review is particularly personal and aggressive against Queensland Symphony Orchestra. These sorts of pieces are very hurtful for those many talented people who have contributed a large part of their professional careers to an orchestra that is remarkable.”
“From a company perspective obviously we do not agree with, or accept, what has been written, and attributed to unknown sources,” said Wanchap told the magazine which went to interview another anonymous former QSO employee who repeated the claims made by those made to Daily Review.
An “all staff meeting” meeting was held on Wednesday after publication of the Daily Review story with staff instructed not to talk to the media. However its musicians, who were not the subject of the story which was about administrative staff, released a statement supporting the QSO music director Alondra de la Parra.
It read: “We the players of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra wish to express support for our management and artistic leadership,” the section principals said in the statement. “We’re proud to have such talented and conscientious leaders as David Pratt and Alondra de la Parra and appreciate what they and all our administrative and artistic staff do.
“To make great things happen in any orchestra, change is needed, and under the leadership of David and Alondra this change is happening, with positive results being felt,” the statement said. “We look forward to a long and prosperous future with them.”
Judging from the comments on our story, and elsewhere, those describing themselves as familiar with the QSO workplace environment do not agree.
QSO senior management might feel perfectly justified in shedding or losing so many staff as part of a reinvigoration of its new look under Pratt and de la Parra, so why the obscufation?