Misconduct investigations lead to high-profile dismissals in Cleveland, New York, and Toronto; new opera productions test boundaries; signs of success and a healthy surplus at the Toronto Symphony; and a significant donation to Orchestre Metropolitain interrupts a live Yannick interview. Read more about the week's most notable stories in orchestral news.
Photo: Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
Reckonings in Cleveland, New York, and Toronto
The Cleveland Orchestra has dismissed two high-profile musicians, concertmaster William Preucil and principal trombonist Massimo La Rosa, following investigations of sexual misconduct, the New York Times and Washington Post report. The 12-page investigation report is also available online via The Cleveland Orchestra website.
The New York Philharmonic also dismissed two musicians in September, principal oboist Liang Wang and assistant principal trumpet Matthew Muckey, following investigations of unspecified misconduct, the New York Times reported.
In a feature article, Globe and Mail arts reporter Marsha Lederman explores in detail the recent ouster of conductor Noel Edison from Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Elora Festival Singers. Lederman interviewed accusers, supporters, TMC and EFS administrators, and the conductor himself, creating a nuanced and complex portrait of a troubling situation.
In the most recent issue Senza Sordino, ICSOM chair Meredith Snow addressed several uncomfortable truths for the symphonic industry, including the critical state of the US pension fund, the recent spate of sexual misconduct allegations, and the lack of diversity in orchestras, including boards, management, and musicians. ICSOM adopted resolutions addressing these and other issues.
On stage: Provocative operas, dead cats, and a cello restored
Sex and violence are familiar fodder for opera, of course, but several risqué new productions have raised eyebrows. CBC News reports on the Canadian Opera Company's premiere or Rufus Wainwright's Hadrian, with its open depiction of gay sex and suicide; the Deutsche Oper am Rhein's Tannhauser, with scenes set in Nazi gas chambers; and Opera Queensland's #MeToo-inspired Don Giovanni, in which (spoiler alert!) 200 naked female extras drag the villain to hell.
Regina Symphony music director Gordon Gerrard argues that classical audiences have grown too reserved, in a column for the Leader Post, pointing to the (likely apocryphal) story of a Russian ballerina whose performance was greeted with the flung carcass of a dead cat. (Nevertheless, she persisted and received a standing ovation, the story goes.)
When Tariq Abdul Razzac immigrated to Canada from Iraq this March, he brought along his bullet-shattered cello, which had saved his life in a gun attack. CBC News featured a photo essay on the restoration of the cello, completed thanks to the generosity of Calgary luthier Natanael Sasaki.
Business: New's new post and a big TSO surplus
Gemma New, the New Zealand-born music director of the Hamilton Philharmonic, has been named principal guest conductor of the Dallas Symphony, Dallas News reports. New was also profiled in a cover story in October's International Musician.
Saskatoon Symphony executive director Mark Turnerspoke to reporters for Global News, addressing for the first time an assault on him which occurred in the SSO's office in July. He has made a difficult but complete recovery, and thanked his colleagues and the community for their support. The SSO will relocate its office next month to a safer location.
The Toronto Symphony reported a $2.3 million surplus and double-digit growth in ticket sales, the Toronto Star reports. Interim CEO Gary Hanson introduced a demand-pricing approach which has been highly successful; the TSO recently appointed a new CEO, Matthew Loden, as well as naming its next music director, Gustavo Gimeno, who will start in 2020.
Orchestre Metropolitain will benefit from a $500k donation, courtesy of heiress Sophie Desmarais, La Presse reports (in French). The donation was announced during a CBC interview with OM music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin (also in French).