Sexual Harassment In the Music World
IAWM February 28, 2007
There has been some interesting news coming from the Cleveland Symphony.
Their concertmaster, Bill Preucil, has been accused of nepotism
and sexual harassment. According to the arts newspaper "Cleveland Scene":
"...soon after Preucil arrived [in the orchestra], he began to use his power
for his own benefit, pushing for his family members to gain prominent spots
on the orchestra floor, several members say. And as a teacher at the
Cleveland Institute of Music, Preucil made an unwanted advance toward one of
his students, say several people who know the woman involved. When the
relationship threatened to become public, CIM paid for the student to
transfer schools and continue her musical education elsewhere."
Actually, CIM is even paying her tuition at her new school. This was not
the first time Mr. Preucil had been accused of sexual harassment. You can
find the complete story here:
CIM refuses to discuss the case -- another example of the destructive
secrecy shaped by classical music's ethos of elitism that often only pays
lip-service to social responsibility. Instead of genuinely dealing with the
problem, it appears that CIM simply made a pay-off and then shrouded the
event in an irrepsonsible and self-serving silence.
And now the "Cleveland Plain Dealer" reports that, "Ellen dePasquale, one of
the Cleveland Orchestra's most high-profile musicians, has resigned as
associate concertmaster, even as the orchestra is preparing to hold an
audition that will displace her as second-in-line after concertmaster
William Preucil." She is resigning on principle, because the orchestra, at
the request of its conductor, Franz Welser-Most, has specifically created a
new chair to by-pass her. Is this yet another case of an orchestra unable
to deal with women in leading positions? The full story is here:
The problem of sexual harassment is one of the dirty secrets of classical
music. It is especially problematic among the adjunct professors taken from
major symphonies, since it can be difficult for music departments and music
festivals to exercise oversight over their work.
Here is a link to another article about harassment that appeared in the
Chronicle of Higher Education in June 2002, this time focusing on the
University of Texas:
In the mid 90s both the St. Louis Symphony and the Philadelphia orchestra
went through astounding, and -violent- cases of sexual harassment. You can
read about them here:
In the German-speaking world, it is an almost openly accepted practice for
male music professors to have sexual relationships with their women
students. Freia Hoffmann recently published a book about this problem.
(Can someone give us some details about the book? My copy has not arrived.)
And the FrauenMusikForum in Switzerland published an astounding study about
the sexual exploitation of school age children studying music. The
percentage of young students affected was mind-boggling.
When my wife addressed this problem with the Rektor of the Musikhochschule
Trossingen, he brushed it aside, and said there was nothing he could do
because it would require firing a third of the professors. At another
meeting a little later, he made crude jokes about the problem. It is often
not taken seriously.
I miss discussion of these sorts of issues on the IAWM list. Concert
notices are very important, but if we have little more than that, our list
could appear to be somewhat parochial.