Several of the 16 musicians dumped from the Opera Australia Orchestra have spoken of the devastation wrought by the forced redundancies, with one accusing the company of “dropping a hand grenade” into the orchestra.

Musicians from the Opera Australia Orchestra protest against company redundancies

Tutti oboe Mark Bruwel, who first joined the orchestra in 1988, said carrying out the targeted redundancies during the COVID-19 pandemic was “just appalling, and at the same time they were getting government assistance to keep jobs, it’s unconscionable”.

“To throw us out into a work environment where, along with travel, the performing arts, they’re the two industries that have really copped it in this crisis. It’s not like I can go and get casual work with the Sydney Symphony next week.”

Bruwel, 55, says there is a “very big ideological element” behind the targeted redundancies. The result will be the use of more freelance musicians, he says, which will undermine the orchestra’s artistic integrity.

“Every night you’ll go in with a different team of players,” Bruwel predicts. “It would be like the Australian cricket team versing England in the Ashes...

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