Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Orchestras and human rights


It is difficult to believe that we are in the 21st century after reading about the alleged anti-gay discrimination at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (seen in photo above). A statement by dismissed Buffalo Philharmonic oboist J Bud Roach alleges both homophobic remarks by an orchestra principal, and a lack of remedial action by music director JoAnn Falletta whose credits include being inducted into the Western New York Women’s Hall of Fame, and receiving the Human Relations Award from the Buffalo/Niagra Chapter of the American Jewish Committee.

The Buffalo discrimation case will be high profile as it is being handled by The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), an organisation that has done remarkable work eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation by championing fair, accurate and inclusive media representation.


GLAAD's press release states: The Division of Human Rights on March 22, 2005 in J. Bud Roach v Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society, Inc. ruled that there was “probable cause to believe that the respondent [the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra] has engaged in or is in engaging in the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of. Pursuant to the Human Rights Law, this matter is recommended for public hearing.” On June 18, 2007, there will be a public hearing before the New York State Division of Human Rights in the case of J. Bud Roach v Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society, Inc.

Now read about an extraordinarily powerful statement of gay rights by a young American composer
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6 comments:

Les said...

I'm totally shocked by this, not for the least because JoAnn Falletta was the conductor for the Women's Philharmonic, an organization which seemed to be on the forefront of both feminism and Lesbian/Bi rights. This is deeply distressing.

Your link to the young composer seems to not be working.

Pliable said...

Les, thanks for pointing out the broken link - fixed.

As you say this story is distressing. But, I would emphasise, I have tried to report it objectively using a press release issued by J Bud Roach and GLAAD. There is no response available to me from either the Buffalo Philharmonic or JoAnn Falletta, so we don't know their side of the story.

I will add any response to the accusations that I receive.

Pliable said...

A respose from the Buffalo Philharmonic is on the PlaybillArts website:

BPO executive director Daniel Hart issued the following statement:

"It is extremely unfortunate that a former employee of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) is attempting to tarnish the image of our organization and our esteemed music director JoAnn Falletta prior to a hearing before an administrative law judge with the New York State Division of Human Rights.

"The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is comprised of talented musicians from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life. We are extremely proud of our musicians and their commitment to upholding the highest of professional standards and practices, especially under JoAnn Falletta.

"We are confident that the hearing before the administrative law judge will find the claims made by this former employee against the BPO [to be] without merit. It should be further noted that the BPO has fully cooperated with the Division of Human Rights at every juncture in this matter.

"As this is a legal matter, the BPO will have no further comment at this time."

Chris Foley said...

There are a lot of unanswered questions about this story.

For example, why wasn't the matter dealt with immediately by Ms. Falletta? She could have resolved the matter at once by talking to the principal oboist, who then could have issued a private verbal apology. Instead why did she allegedly tell Mr. Roach to let the matter drop for reasons of avoiding a mess?

Also, where is the American Federation of Musicians in all this? Collective agreements usually include a mechanism for launching grievance against the orchestra on behalf of their members.

Please list updates on this important story as the facts become available.

Pliable said...

Chris, thx for that.

I contacted both the Buffalo Philharmonic and JoAnn Falletta's management earlier offering to publish a response.

I'll upload any reply as soon as I receive it.

Pliable said...

Stephen M. Baker, Associate Executive Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has sent me their official statement on this matter, which is identical to that posted above by me above.

Here it is again:

STATEMENT BY BUFFALO PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA REGARDING CLAIMS BY FORMER EMPLOYEE TO THE NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

BUFFALO< NEW YORK – It is extremely unfortunate that a former employee of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) is attempting to tarnish the image this organization prior to a hearing before an administrative law judge with the New York State Division of Human Rights.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is comprised of talented musicians from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life. We are extremely proud of our musicians and their commitment to upholding the highest professional standards and practices.

We are confident that the hearing before the administrative law judge will find the claims made by this former employee against the BPO without merit. It should be further noted that the BPO has fully cooperated with the Division of Human Rights at every juncture in this matter.

As this is a legal matter, the BPO will have no further comment at this time.