The Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra which played in almost 50 venues across the U.S. were mostly Bulgarian according to a report in the New York Times.
Jane Schumacher the executive director at the Etherredge Center for the Performing Arts in AIken, South Carolina got a surprise when the Dublin Philarmonic Orchestra were booked there for a performance.
Going back stage before the show to meet the musicians, she was looking foward to hearing Irish accents but was shocked to find out that the overwhelming majority of musicians were from Bulgaria.
“I remember going back there, joking, and saying, ‘Is there actually anybody from Ireland?,’ ” she said. “I got stares, because they didn’t know what I was saying.” said Schumacher.
The Irish tour received endorsements from President Mary McAleese and from American and Irish ambassadors.
The New York Times investigation showed the tour sponsors gave details of 75 musicians all said to be Irish citizens, apart from three Bulgarians and four people from Britain.
However a list issued by the immigration services showed visa approvals for a very different group. Most were Bulgarian only two Irish people ended up touring as members of the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Gavin O’Sullivan, the contractor for the tour said he had never heard of most of the Irish names on the orchestra list given to the musicians’ union.
The U.S plays host to dozens of foreign orchestras every year as they tour the country and follow grueling routines, however the orchestra’s may not be always singing from the same hymn sheet.
A closer look at many of these musical groups shows a pattern of creative marketing when it comes to their credentials and identities.
When questioned by the New York Times, Ronald A. Wilford, chairman of the booking group Columbia Artists Management denied that misrepresentation had occurred. He said the agency relied on the orchestra to provide information about their musicians.
“We haven’t been dishonest that I’m aware of,” he said. Orchestras typically have shifting personnel in a world of musicians who easily cross borders, he added.
“It’s a little bit of a naïve position to take that there couldn’t be international players in an orchestra,” he said. “All of this is quite silly. We bring institutions that are fully formed.”
“You know you’re taking a chance on misrepresenting to an audience,” Schumacher said. “This town is small but very educated, very cosmopolitan.”
Derek Gleeson, the Dublin orchestra’s music director, who resides in California said the make up of the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra does not matter. Gleeson said the difficult economy made it too expensive to hire Irish musicians so he turned to Bulgarians.
“The orchestra is the organization who hires the musicians,” Gleeson said. “Musicians come and go.”