The 8/3/21 edition of The Baltimore Sun published an article by Mary Carole McCauley that reports on the orchestra’s decision to dismiss Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) principal flutist Emily Skala.
This situation appears to be one of those rare instances where a musician employee is dismissed for non-artistic reasons. Skala has made headlines a few times over the pandemic as a result of her decisions to speak out on social media in a way the Sun article characterized as “support[ing] conspiracy theories about the origins of the coronavirus and about election fraud.”
But wait, there’s more.
In addition to her social media posts, Skala reportedly contacted musician colleagues to lodge her displeasure with the organization’s decision to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Officially, the BSO is remaining unsurprisingly tight lipped about the entire situation, but they did offer a brief statement.
“Ms. Skala has had discipline imposed upon her over these past few months; unfortunately, she has repeated the conduct for which she had been previously disciplined, and dismissal was the necessary and appropriate reaction to this behavior,” [wrote Peter Kjome, the BSO’s president and CEO].
This isn’t the first orchestra that decided to hold an employee responsible for similar behavior.
Just over a year ago, a Spokane Symphony administrator who regularly performed with the orchestra as a substitute musician resigned after being approached about hostile comments made on social media about the Black Lives Matter movement and pandemic conspiracy theories.
An article on that situation in the Spokeman-Review by Chad Sokol from 7/8/2020 reports that the comments violated the employer’s social media policy. But the orchestra’s executive director, Jeff vom Saal, went on to say “What [the employee] is representing is totally inconsistent with our positions on tolerance and openness.”