Brian Schembri’s decision to pull out of last June’s season-closing concert was the straw that broke the camel’s back, forcing the National Philharmonic Orchestra to sack its conductor, this newspaper has learnt.
In a Facebook post two days ago, Mro Schembri announced he had been “unceremoniously sacked” following a unanimous decision by the management board headed by Sigmund Mifsud.
Considered among the best musicians in a generation, Mro Schembri was appointed artistic director and principal conductor in January 2014, following a very successful career here and abroad.
The unquestionable and notable artistic development that the orchestra has gone through these last few years was the direct result of my contribution
In his announcement, Mro Schembri did not mince his words to express his feelings, saying he had never been served such a “humiliating” treatment in his life.
“This decision is an absurd contradiction with the general consensus that the unquestionable and notable artistic development that the orchestra has gone through these last few years was the direct result of my contribution,” he said.
News of Mro Schembri’s departure prompted world-renowned Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja to appeal for a compromise, saying it would be a great pity to lose such talent.
“I can definitely vouch for the fact that we don’t have artists like Brian Schembri growing on trees,” he remarked.
However, sources close to the National Orchestra threw cold water on the possibility of the decision being revised.
“Efforts to solve internal issues that culminated in his decision to pull out from last June’s season-closing concert led to nowhere. Consequently, there was no other option but to sever our ties with Mro Schembri,” they said.
“His decision [last June] meant that a replacement conductor had to be urgently flown in from Armenia, whose biography had to be included as an insert in the concert’s programme, which had already gone to print,” the sources recalled.
The sources, however, admitted that Mro Schembri’s departure would be a great loss, noting that, under his baton, the national orchestra had reached new heights.
At the time, the Times of Malta had reported that the clash, which had been brewing for months, was over the conditions of Mro Schembri’s new contract.
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