Cyprus Mail

Youth orchestra being ‘ripped apart’ by internal strife

By Andria Kades

Internal clashes between board members at the Cyprus youth symphony orchestra are threatening their annual budget while parents fear the organisation is being led to destruction.

The strife within the youth branch of the orchestra was discussed during the House culture and education committee where lawmakers described the goings-on as akin to cannibalism.

Artistic director of the youth symphony orchestra Yiorgos Kountouris defended his decision to take his dispute over his contract to court as it did not include a clause that would allow him to renew his term.

The orchestra is a government supported organisation under the wing of the education and culture ministry.

Egli Pandelaki, the ministry’s permanent secretary said all art directors work on a six-year contract basis and Kountouris sought a legal route to ensure his term would be indefinite.

As a member of the board, she said she had never participated in any board where there were that many complaints and people “ripping each other apart.”

Kountouris however countered that the board of directors held a grudge against him and was trying to take revenge because he had refused to appoint specific persons in the past or sign off certain financial transactions.

He also refused to cut back on the snacks offered to the young children while members of the board were enjoying gourmet sandwiches.

He stressed he never sought to keep his position for life but wanted the right to be evaluated.

According to Diko MP Nicolas Papadopoulos, the board has announced a tender for the position of artistic director, calling it a vengeful move to try to supplant Kountouris despite the fact that a week ago, the House committee had asked the board not to proceed with any such decision.

He told reporters that if the board did not recall their decision, then the funds set to be approved to them during Friday’s plenum session would not be released.

According to chairman of the House culture and education committee Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis, a new board is set to be appointed in six months anyway and there is no need to make rushed decision.

Adamos Katsantonis, speaking on behalf of the parents said there were members of the board that were illegally in their positions for the past eight to 12 years.

Although no one is irreplaceable, at the moment, Kountouris is not someone that can be replaced, Katsantonis told MPs.

Hadjiyiannis added that the organisation could not be tarnished with problems such as these and lawmakers would not become spectators to a stubbornness that made problems worse instead of resolving them.

“Cannibalising each other does not lead us anywhere.”

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