In another strange sequel to problems plaguing the Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra (OFJ), this weekend’s concert, “Rhythms of Mexico and Spain,” scheduled for the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara, was suddenly cancelled and the musicians sent home.
Orchestra administration first said the reason for the cancellation was “urgent repairs to the acoustic shell,” although in a later announcement on their Web page, there was no mention of the repairs.
But sources within the orchestra stated that the cancellation of this last concert of the season had been brewing for days. Practices starting Tuesday were cancelled and musicians told it was dangerous to be on the stage, although some found this explanation “thin” and suspected the cancellation is related to the orchestra’s labor problems, which center around the “separation” of a group of longtime orchestra musicians from their jobs.
The cancellation follows the appearance Tuesday of OFJ Director Marco Parisotto and Jalisco Culture Secretary Myriam Vachez before the State Human Rights Commission (Comisión Estatal de Derechos Humanos) after complaints were lodged by 16 musicians. According to the newspaper Milenio’s report on that hearing, the musicians’ legal advisor Alejandro Ancira claimed that the Secretary of Culture and OFJ management were considering “the possibility of not practicing and not having concerts.”
Ancira also noted that his high-profile client, violinist Jolanta Michalewicz, had still not been reintegrated into the orchestra as he requested in successful hearings that are part of her labor lawsuit.
Meanwhile OFJ General Manager Arturo Gomez, who some say is in a difficult position, spoke at a conference Tuesday, underlining the need for “civil society” to regain control of the orchestra “to avoid the state and politics doing with it whatever they want.”
Although some doubt the cancellation was due to repairs to the acoustic shell (which consists of heavy wood panels that surround the back half of the stage and maintain excellent acoustics for the orchestra), General Administrative Director of the Secretariat of Culture José Luis Patiño pointed out that the panels have had problems for months and that a section recently came loose and hit a worker. He said repairs can probably be completed in 15 to 20 days.
The orchestra will begin its third season in late summer.