Reports of sexual harassment and gender discrimination involving “beautiful young girls” at the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) have been filed against its top brass, The Shift can exclusively report.
The minister responsible for the orchestra, Owen Bonnici, and its chairman, former finance ministry permanent secretary Alfred Camilleri, are fully aware of the serious criminal allegations, according to a report seen by The Shift.
The Shift is informed that a former employee has filed a criminal complaint with the police detailing the incidents that forced her to resign from the MPO due to “excessive stress caused by abuse and multiple incidents of sexual harassment that took place at the office and during work functions”.
The former MPO employee states in the report that she had made several verbal reports that were ignored, leading to her resignation.
No action appears to have been taken so far, and questions sent to Minister Owen Bonnici and MPO chairman Alfred Camilleri were met with silence despite the serious accusations made, clearly outlined in the former employee’s resignation letter in which she said the difficulties she faced led to health problems.
‘Shocking’ and ‘toxic’ experience
Claims of sexual harassment at the MPO have been doing the rounds for several years.
In a separate incident, a Brazilian violinist and cellist who spent a year at the MPO went even further, going public with her experience of how the MPO was unprofessionally managed.
Interviewed on the ‘From a Cellist’s perspective’ podcast, the artist described her experience at the MPO as “shocking” and “toxic”.
“The first impression I immediately had was this feeling of an environment of general unpreparedness. It was very frustrating as we were receiving our parts at the last minute during rehearsals. No one from the management knew who was dealing with what,” she said.
“However, what was most frustrating was it seemed that young girls were being treated differently from the rest,” the artist, now living in London, said.
Recounting a complaint she received from management about her attire during rehearsals, the violinist said she later discovered that none of her orchestra colleagues had complained and that one experienced violinist told her not to pay any attention to it “as they do this to every new beautiful young girl that comes here”.
“In the same week that I was called, together with other girls, and talked to about our t-shirts and shorts, the CEO (Sigmund Mifsud) said he had forgotten to ask the government for the €20,000 in allowances needed for our tour in Dubai,” she added.
“I vividly remember thinking about how he was so worried about my t-shirt and not about the €20,000 he forgot for an international tour.”
Saying that she had decided to leave due to the “toxic environment”, the artist she now realises that, at the MPO, “whoever stood up and did not accept certain things was fired”.
The MPO is led by CEO Sigmund Mifsud, a former trumpeter at the orchestra who was made CEO soon after the Labour Party was elected in 2013 and after he unsuccessfully contested elections on the Party’s ticket.
The name of the senior official being accused of sexual harassment is being held back to protect the identity of the victim.