Joburg orchestra staff owed R2.2m in wages

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IOL orchestra INLSA File photo: Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra musicians do not know what the future holds as they have not received salaries for months.

Johannesburg - A minimum amount of R2.2 million is owed to Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO) musicians and staff members.

Thursday night was the orchestra’s last performance of the season and hundreds of music lovers arrived for the concert at the Linder Auditorium in Parktown.

The musicians do not know what the future holds as they have not received their salaries for several months now.

According to the JPO’s managing director, Shadrack Bokaba, business had not been stable for the past year.

“A resolution was taken on October 19 to place business under business-rescue practitioners. The process is under way to lead us into this process,” he said.

Bokaba said they had been dependent on lottery funds and the Arts and Culture Department. “We are also increasing fundraising efforts, targeting private companies. If we fail on this one, the company will reach a stage where it will be liquidated,” he said, adding that if that was the case, then last night would have been the last concert for the JPO.

Just before the start of the concert, the fans were told that at least 75 percent of the staff salaries for August had been paid. September and October salaries were still outstanding.

The stage was filled with almost 50 players and a Canadian conductor. One of the players described to the fans the orchestra’s dire situation.

“We depend on one another [for] survival. We sometimes don’t have petrol to attend practice, but we make a plan.,” he said.

Music fan Clive Cohen said he was hoping that a number of individuals and private companies would come forward.

In July, The Star reported that 17 freelance musicians attached to the JPO were owed about R 250 000.

The JPO performed pieces including Dvorak’s Symphony No 9, Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No 2 and an Inon Barnaton piano piece under Canadian Bernhard Gueller.

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