Malta Philharmonic terminates Brian Schembri’s contract as principal conductor

Maestro says “humiliating” decision is “unfair, abusive and, in my opinion, illegal”

Maestro Brian Schembri
Maestro Brian Schembri

The artistic director of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Brian Schembri, has announced on Facebook that his contract as principal conductor has been terminated by unanimous decision of the MPO board.

He said the “humiliating” decision was “unfair, abusive and, in my opinion, illegal.”

“Never in my life [have I] been treated so basely and disrespectfully by persons in authority who were supposed to support me in the job they themselves engaged me to do, that is to develop the orchestra to the levels that, by common consent, were hardly imaginable before,” he said, referring to the MPO board.

The board is chaired by musician Sigmud Mifsud, a Labour Party candidate in the 2017 elections.

“This decision is in absurd contradiction with the general consensus that the unquestionable and notable artistic development that the orchestra has gone through these last few years was the direct result of my contribution. This was even admitted by the executive chairman himself a few weeks after our historic performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in Rome. This huge success was then followed by several other acclaimed performances at the Bozar in Brussels (with Joseph Calleja), in Vienna’s Musikverein and Klagenfurt Konzerthaus and Beethoven’s immortal 9th Symphony in Malta, to mention a few. All these events received well-deserved critical acclaim as well as endless standing ovations for all involved” Schembri said.

Schembri said that following the termination, he demanded National Orchestra Limited to pay him the termination payment according to his legally binding contract.

He said this was “a very painful moment in my professional life”.

“There is so much more that I had wished and planned to do to continue developing this orchestra into an artistically high-level professional ensemble. However, even if I have been so grossly and unceremoniously sacked by the national orchestra of my own dear country, nothing will ever change the fact that together with the musicians, I have succeeded in leaving the orchestra in a much better state than I had found it.”

Schembri wished his colleagues the best for their own future, saying his chapter with them had been “vulgarly aborted by the absolute arrogance and incompetence of the various authorities”.

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