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Orchestra Fires Famed Flute Player for Trafficking in “Conspiracy Theories”

Orchestra Fires Famed Flute Player for Trafficking in “Conspiracy Theories”

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) has dismissed a longtime flutist over her controversial social media posts that they claimed trafficked in “conspiracy theories.” 

“Principal Flutist Emily Skala has been dismissed from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in accordance with the progressive discipline policy agreed to in our collective bargaining agreement with the Musicians’ Association of Metropolitan Baltimore Local 40-543, AFM,” BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome said in a statement released to the press. “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.” 

That “discipline” was levied against Skala because she apparently had a history of sharing so-called “conspiracy theories” about the coronavirus and the 2020 election. The BSO’s issues with Skala spilled into the public sphere in February, when the orchestra publicly distanced itself from her views.

Among other controversial views, Skala claimed COVID-19 was made in a lab in North Carolina and sold to a lab in Wuhan, China, where it was then planted in a wet market. The first confirmed human infections were in Wuhan. However, the virus is thought to have a natural origin, likely jumping from bats to humans. The possibility it might have accidentally been released from a lab remains under investigation.

Skala reportedly also made incendiary comments in internal emails. She defended herself in a March letter to The Baltimore Sun and claimed management had created a hostile work environment.

“I had posted information from what I understand to be peer-reviewed studies, independent journalists, and licensed medical doctors who weren’t chosen to be presented on our mainstream channels, along with educational videos and charts,” Skala wrote. “These pieces contradict what we are being told through mass media.”

But Skala told the Sun that she believed the incident that precipitated her firing came on July 23, when she went to Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to hand in her new W-4 tax form and did not have a mask with her. When she discovered her key card had been deactivated, she said, she tried to open the door. She said she had been barred from the building and said she believes management was looking for a reason to terminate her.

“From February until now, the BSO has repeatedly violated my constitutional rights in response to audience and donor and subscriber pressure,” Skala told the paper. “They’ve committed many crimes against me, none of which they have acknowledged even to themselves. It would not be right to let that go unaccounted for. I would hate for this to happen to anyone else.”

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  1. Trebor Retsbew

    I do suppose this is just like any other work place, if you do not follow the rules agreed to when you were hired , then they have a reason to terminate your employment. I do suppose a few million have experienced that over the years.

  2. Joe S Bruder

    According to BSO, she was fired for multiple violations of multiple policies. Musicians have to work in close quarters, and playing wind instruments has a tendency to spread germs as well. I’d bet she won’t wear a mask, wouldn’t get vaccinated, and wouldn’t respect the spaces of people who want to stay healthy. That makes her a risk to the financial health of the orchestra – if she gets sick and/or infects multiple musicians, an entire season could get cancelled, which might put the orchestra out of business (not to mention endangering her own life and the lives of other musicians).

    On top of that, she is a principal flautist – which makes her one of the “faces” of the BSO, and she is most likely required by her contract to represent the orchestra in a responsible manner. They probably warned her to tone down the conspiracy theory stuff, and her response was to double down, which makes the entire orchestra look bad. Public Relations is everything for a publicly funded arts organization, and she jeopardized their reputation.

    In the end, they are a business, and she is an employee who was terminated for cause. Happens all the time. Republicans love it under any other circumstances, in fact Republicans fight for “right to work” laws all the time, which essentially allows employers to fire anyone regardless of the reason. But in this case, because it’s COVID related, Republicans are up in arms about her free speech rights.

    • Dan Tyree

      Joe you probably play slobber blues on the meat horn

      • Joe S Bruder

        It seems that every answer from you is a homophobic slur. Like the Senators who introduce all kinds of anti-gay laws, then get arrested for diddling little boys or propositioning policemen in bathroom stalls… are you trying to tell us something?

  3. Ben

    Mike, it’s a good thing Punching Bag Post doesn’t have such policies.

  4. Ben

    I think it’s fitting that this article is u set the sub topic of “Propaganda”. I couldn’t think of a better place for your pieces!