EXCLUSIVE: Sexual harassment claims hit the national orchestra, no action yet

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.

                           
                           
                               
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Alfred Tonna
Alfred Tonna
1 month ago

If these accusations are proved to be true, than, it is a real pity that the beautiful Harmony that emanates from our Philharmonic Orchestra during performances, would be a totally shattered and discordant harmony when it comes to human relations on a place of work, ESPECIALLY IN SUCH A PLACE OF WORK where Harmony, in all its forms, that being musical or otherwise, is of pure essence.

Francis Said
Francis Said
1 month ago

Shameful and unfortunately widespread. Nothing seems to be seriously done to curb this disgusting attitude.
I believe that we do have a Minister responsible for equal opportunities. Well time for this Minister to stand up and urgently do something about it.

Joseph
Joseph
1 month ago
Reply to  Francis Said

Kemm ilhi haj dejjem tisma l’istess diska li l-politika tidhol jew jdahhlu nies ipoliticizzati biex joqoghodu jidhru jew jaghmlu preferenza bejn nies professjonali. Il-lejber u l-politici l’ohra ma jridux jitghallmu u jahdmu b’nies professjonali li ma jaraw xejn aktar hlief il-kultura Muzikali.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
1 month ago

The four pillars of our government are impunity, fraud, money laundering and sexual harassment.

Indrija
Indrija
1 month ago

At the Manoel Theatre there is an identical grievous situation.

Gee Mike
Gee Mike
1 month ago
Reply to  Indrija

Bet you it’s the same all over government, and anything government owned.
They have infected every institution, so that they are “protected”.

Last edited 1 month ago by Gee Mike
viv
viv
1 month ago

What makes these attacks on people’s dignity, personal security and mental health much, much worse is that Labour never permits their own to be appropriately punished by the courts – causing yet more harm to the victims.
It must have taken a lot of courage for these individuals to speak up – or – what is much worse and possibly nearer the truth – they had no other choice.

Cikku Poplu
Cikku Poplu
1 month ago

The MPO has to face the music now. The pun writes itself!

Joseph
Joseph
1 month ago

Dan kien jonqos biex l’orkestra Nazzjonali tigi fli hi. Jigu nies professjonali min barra u jitilqu imhabba certu bandisti. Illum fuq l’internet titghaxxaq tisma orkestri studenti fil-Brazil u pajjizi kbar, bhal Canada u l’Amerika. Li smajna fuq il-mezzi taghna fil-funeral tar-Regina ukoll wiehed ghandu ghaliex jitpaxxa. Dawn ghandhom Konservatorji, li ahna qas noholmu bihom. Ma tantc hemm wiehed biex jgholli rasu.

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