GEORGE TOWN: A simmering feud between senior members of the Penang State Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (Pessoc) and its new board reached a crescendo when Pessoc officials went to the musicians’ homes and took back musical instruments they have been using for years.
The members, already unhappy with the board for cancelling the annual Pesta Music Camp and Concert last year, said Pessoc officials came to their homes to take back the instruments they had had for years.
It is learnt that the senior members were also unhappy at being asked to re-fill application forms as part of the board’s restructuring exercise.
Bassoonist Khoo Swee Hong claimed that a Pessoc administrator visited her home as well as the homes of two other senior members.
“She came to see us last Friday, with another lady whose position in Pessoc we aren’t even sure of.
“The bassoon has been with me since 1995 so I don’t understand why they suddenly want it back,” Khoo said.
“It’s not that I don’t want to return it but the way they have treated me and others who borrowed the state’s instruments is insulting,” she told reporters at the Pessoc office in Dewan Sri Pinang here yesterday.
Musician Stefan Dawson said he felt “humiliated” by the treatment.
“They made me feel like I had stolen the French horn. I have been a member since I was in school and don’t deserve to be treated this way,” he said.
Jeremy Tan, who has played the clarinet in Pessoc since 1998, said he wasn’t home when they came.
Both Tan and Dawson returned the instruments yesterday.
June Ong, a former committee member of the orchestra, alleged that the new administration had “not bothered” to communicate with the senior members.
However, Pessoc personnel manager Sebina Pade said they had tried to get in touch with all members as part of the restructuring exercise.
“On Nov 12, the new chairman (Datin Seri Irene Yeap) informed all orchestra and choir members via e-mail that application forms would have to be refilled and submitted to update records.
“Those who didn’t fill in the forms were no longer considered members. We took the instruments back because they did not express any interest in taking part in Pessoc’s activities.
“They never replied to our calls or attempts to get in touch with them, so we had no choice but to go to their homes,” she said.
Yeap, who took over the helm of Pessoc on Aug 12 last year, also informed members that the board was deferring the 2009 Pesta to an unspecified date this year.
The camp, normally organised at the end of year, is the biggest annual event for the orchestra, and last year was the first time in 19 years it had been being cancelled.
Meanwhile, state Town and Country Planning, Housing and Arts Committee chairman Wong Hon Wai said he was willing to listen to the grouses of the senior members.