A CLARINET player has been fired from his position with the Barcelona Municipal Band due to not having a C1 level in Catalan.
Despite being able to understand the language “perfectly,” 53-year-old Sevillano Jose Joaquin Sanchez was sacked, despite having performed with the group for 27 years.
The move by the Barcelona City Council utilises a controversial law, first passed in 2020, which requires public employees to have a sufficient command of the local language.
Sanchez, who has claimed to have a strong grasp of the Catalan language after having played in bands with Catalan and Valencian musicians for 30 years, has condemned the move as a use of the language as a “political weapon of discrimination,” he told El Mundo.
“For many professions it is disproportionate and absurd,” Sanchez said.
“But in the case of music — the language of music is universal.”
His position with the Barcelona Municipal Band — an “internationally renowned ensemble” founded in 1886 that serves to showcase and disseminate Catalan music — went up for review in 2022 to comply with a 2021 law that sought to regularise public sector employment.
After reviewing Sanchez’s profile, the Barcelona City Council — then under the control of Ada Colau — rejected his terms of employment due to his failure to demonstrate “superior” proficiency in Catalan and to pass a “mandatory and eliminatory” Catalan language test.
The City Council used a 2016 law to pass its judgement, which requires that public employees prove sufficient knowledge of Catalan, or else all other qualifications they hold for their positions will be tossed aside and they are, in effect, fired.
According to Sanchez via El Mundo, the City Council offered him access to a job bank for the unemployed, which is, ironically, filled with jobs he cannot apply for until he’s proven Catalan proficiency.
“In Catalonia we are living under a linguistic dictatorship,” he told the newspaper.
“They are using it as a tool for marginalisation.”
In response to his sacking, the musician has filed a lawsuit against the city, challenging on grounds of discrimination.
His lawyer, Angel Escolano, has alleged that it is not necessary for Sanchez to possess proficiency in Catalan in order to effectively perform his responsibilities as a musician.
“It is evident that a C1 level of Catalan is not required to play the clarinet in the Municipal Band,” the lawyer said.