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Members of Calgary Philharmonic Fired for Offensive Comments

By Sara Schabas on May 27, 2024

Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (Photo courtesy of the Calgary Artist Development)

The principal clarinetist and principal oboist of the Calgary Philharmonic have been removed from their posts following a month-long investigation by the orchestra. The two were fired after posting ‘deeply troubling’ comments online.

What’s up: On Tuesday, the Calgary Philharmonic’s CEO Marc Stevens announced that the orchestra would be taking action following disturbing online comments from principal clarinetist Slavko Popovic and principal oboist Alex Klein. The announcement follows the orchestra’s investigation into screenshots posted on social media of offensive comments against women and Black people made by the two instrumentalists. Popovic and Klein’s chairs are now listed as “to be filled” on the orchestra website.

Digging deeper: Prior to joining the Calgary Philharmonic, the young clarinetist Slavko Popovic attended the Curtis Institute of Music. The Grammy-winning Alex Klein previously played with the Chicago Symphony and has been vocal about his experiences with focal dystonia. The Instagram page @orchestraisracist posted that they first reported Popovic for problematic remarks to the Calgary Philharmonic in 2020.

The oboist Katherine Needleman, an advocate in the classical music industry, recently posted screenshots from the pair of her own. Needleman’s Facebook page as well as sections of her website have been dedicated to exposing misconduct by classical musicians in recent months, as well as systemic inequities promoted by major classical music organizations.

The Calgary Philharmonic’s actions against Klein and Popovic help to set a much-needed precedent within the classical music industry. There are consequences for harmful behaviour, no matter how beautifully you play.

Sara Schabas
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