Enjoying your music?

By Hakim Joe

Music pays and foreign musicians are paid better. 

Malaysia has its own Philharmonic Orchestra aptly named the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. 

Founded in 1997 and resident at the Petronas Philharmonic Hall at KLCC, the MPO gave its first concert on 17 August 1998 under the direction of Kees Bakels from the Netherlands. Bakels became the first music director of MPO until he retired in 2005. British James Judd, who was supposed to be the replacement, had his agreement unaccountably terminated and Swiss Matthias Barnett was roped in as the MPO’s second music director which he served until his contract expired in 2008. German Claus Peter Flor became the MPO’s third and current MPO music director. 

So, how many musicians does one has to round up to form an orchestra? There are 15 in the First Violin section, 13 in the Second Violin section, 11 in the Viola section, 11 in the Cello section, 8 in the Double Bass, 3 in the Flute section, 1 in the Piccolo section, 2 in the Oboe section, 1 in the Cor Anglais section, 3 in the Clarinet section, 3 in the Bassoon section, 3 in the Horn section, 3 in the Trumpet section, 3 in the Trombone section, 1 in the Tuba section, 1 in the Timpani section, 2 in the Percussion section, 1 in the Harp section and 1 in the Keyboards section. That makes 86 in total excluding the conductor. 

Music pays and foreign musicians are paid better. 

The list of musicians include Akiko Daniš, Alexandar Lenkov, Alexandru Radu, Alison Smith O'Connell, Anastasia Kiseleva, Boris Berman, Brett Stemple, Brian Larson, Carol Pendlebury, Catalina Alvarez, Chia-nan Hung, Chris Bosco, Christine Yu, Christopher Brandt, Csaba Körös, Daniel Trgina, Daniela Rodnite, Darcey Timmerman, Denis Simonnet, Ergys Koni, Evgeny Kaplan, Fumiko Dobrinov, Gábor , okány, Gerald Davis, Giovanni Pasini, Hristo Dobrinov, Ionut Mazareanu, James Schumacher, Jin Zhen Hong, Johan Wiklund, John Bourque, John Kennedy, Jon Dante, Joost Flach, Joseph Pruessner, Julie Dessureault, Jun-Hee Chae, Kevin Thompson, Kiyomi Kikuchi, Krisztina Kroó Kovacs, Laurentiu Gherman, Lillian Wang, Lin Jiang, Linda Garrett, Liu Jian, Luisa Hyams, Maho Daniš, Marcel Luxen, Markus Gundermann, Marques Young, Martijn Noomen, Matthew Larsen, Ming Goh, Miroslav Daniš, Naohisa Furusawa, Ong Lin Kern, Ørnulf Lillebjerka, Paul Philbert, Peter Daniš, Peter Graf, Rachel Jenkyns, Raffael Bietenhader, Runa Baagöe, Shelagh MacFarlane, Sherwin Thia, Sim Chee Ghee, Simon Cobcroft, Simon Emes, Sonia Croucher, Stefan Kocsis, Steven Retallick, Sun Yuan, Tan Keng Hong, Tan Poh Joo, Tan Poh Kim, Toko Inomoto, Vira Nyezhentseva, Vladimir Stoyanov, William Theis, Wolfgang Steike, Yanbo Zhao, Yukako Yamamoto, Yuko Kawami, Zhenzhen Liang, Zsolt Harsányi and Zsolt Kovács 

So, how many Malaysian names did you find there and how much does it take to maintain these foreigners? Claus Peter Flor officially gets RM130,000 a month and a two-month annual leave yearly. The Assistant Conductor, Kevin Field gets RM50,000 a month and musicians get between RM16,000 and RM24,000 monthly plus the two-month annual leave. Petronas, being the principal benefactor of MPO forks out approximately RM3.5 million a month or RM42 million a year to maintain the MPO, including wages and benefits to the Malaysian management team. 

It has been estimated that Petronas has spent a whooping RM500 million on the MPO since its establishment in 1997.