Last updateTue, 11 Nov 2014 11am

State orchestra director under fire

The Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO) finds itself embroiled in turmoil with Canadian musical director Mario Parisotto in the eye of the storm.

A simmering conflict exploded last week after several leading musicians of the 80-member orchestra broke ranks to highlight what they are referring to as “acoso laboral” (job harassment).

Specifically, Parisotto is accused of shunning principal players, having them sit out concerts and denying them their basic labor rights.
The musicians are also furious that foreigners, some of whom they claim are students or non-professionals, have been brought in on a temporary basis to replace them.

A document released by a group of JPO musicians, headed by Nury Ulate, Charles Nath, Ulises Arreola, Salvador Hoyos and Jorge Aceves, explains how 18 principal and co-principal players have been sidelined and pressurized to retire, as well as being “threatened” by the musical director.

The unhappy group of musicians said the foreigners brought in by Parisotto to perform in concerts are staying in local hotels, earning more than the local musicians and probably do not have the correct immigration papers allowing them to work here.

Large suns of money are being wasted on airplane fares and hotel bills, while local musicians are getting no support, they say.

JPO Administrative Director Arturo Gómez Poulat said there are “four permanent invitees” and between three and seven per concert.  They earn the same as the rest of the JPO, he confirmed, and are being paid from a special fund set up by the orchestra’s Patronato, or governing body, and not from the operating budget.  The invited musicians are all professionals and are not students, he stressed.

Gómez Poulat also denied that the musicians’ benefits have been cut in any way and that they are being forced to resign.  He hinted that a lot of the problems have been because of “communication issues.”

Parisotto is on record as saying that when he took over the helm of the orchestra his brief was to improve its quality.

“Some of the musicians have technical and interpretative problems. Maybe ten years ago they were at a high level but this has declined,” he said. “I understand these are difficult decisions and that the changes are hard for some egos to accept.”

The musicians also questioned the role of Parisotto’s wife, Mónica Anguiano, who is now on the JPO payroll.

Gómez Poulat explained that Anguiano is helping the JPO with its international promotion, and has been key in  arranging the orchestra’s schedule for next year,  when the state-funded musical body celebrates its 100th anniversary.

In 2015, the JPO will give a concert at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, and may undertake a tour to the United States, China and Germany, as well as record an album.

The average wage of a principal JPO player is around 14,000 pesos a month after taxes.