It is very exceptional for me to write a negative post like this. But after booking the northmacedonian symphony orchestra “FAME’S projectorchestra” in the autumn 2022, I feel obliged to warn others from booking them. They appear to be a cheap orchestra for recordings comparing to peers – and seemingly this comes with a price.
I might write a longer post about this, but I start with a summary here:
I booked the orchestra in Skopje for my composition classes from Copenhagen to experience recording their own compositions for symphony orchestra. We paid with institutional funding and private financing.
I strictly demanded from the beginning of the deal, that the musicians would practise before showing up for the short timed rehearsals. This would proof to be the first dissapointment:
The musicians could not play and intonate simple lines. Especially the trumpets played so bad, that we had to take out an extra half hour for them to play a simple 6/8 syncope.
The percussion didnt have the mallets ready and looked as if they had never seen the parts before, when we started. For another of the compositions, the staff had forgotten to print the flute I part, taking very expensive time from the recording.
On top of all this we had a shocking experience with the FAME’S leader and owner, Aude. During the first day, in the middle of a recording, we had her interupting the session and overwhelming me with a verbal attack. I tried to ignore it and proceed recording with the expensive minutes running out. The issue was as follows:
We had to plan the sessions in blocks of 60 minutes. Since she was not around, I did this scheduling with the staff of hers. I asked, for the sake of one of my composers, if it would be possible to have a 50 minutes session – break – and then a 1:10 minutes session. He agreed and said, that they are flexible – so no worries.
Then as she found out, there was a 0’50 and 1’10 session, she exploded on me in front of the others in the middle of the studio. She accused me of messing up the rehearsal, and when I told her that it was planned with the assistant of hers, she implied I was lying – and tried calling up the particular staff to proof my lie. Not only did he admit, that it was his own mistake – I even had proof of this. But when she found out about this, she just went out of the room, and for the rest of the days, she avoided any contact with me and created an akward atmosphere around the whole place. Many of my students were sad and felt attacked by her.
I never received an apology for this instance, and I never got compensated for their lack of rehearsing, minutes lost to forgotten parts, interupted sessions and many other things, that was like agreed on.
If you decide on booking this orchestra, be sure to get all their promises on a legally binding contract, and dont expect them to play contemporary compositions, they surely do best in long string passages and conventional easy going techniques.
Post scriptum: Their restaurant (cafe) is not so amazing. They have few things on the menu and they dont offer a sunday morning breakfast, even though Aude promised it to be of hotel standards. Also dont accept drinks from them in the initial welcome meeting – you will get a bill for them in the end.