The Montreal Symphony Orchestra has announced the launch of a formal internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment during Charles Dutoit’s 25-year reign as Music Director of the MSO between 1977 and 2002.
The investigation, announced late Saturday evening, was prompted after a complaint was made to MSO management against Dutoit on Friday, afternoon.
The OSM has stated that they will hire an independent third-party to conduct an investigation following a three-point mandate:
1. to establish the relevant facts through, for instance, meetings with the person who made the complaint and with any other who could come forward;
2. to give the necessary support to those who need it and
3. to make recommendations to the Executive Committee for the implementation of measures and mechanisms to prevent such misconduct.
The MSO expressed zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace, and stated that they are “determined to maintain and intensify its unconditional commitment to respect the dignity and fundamental rights of its musicians and employees.”
Dutoit resigned from the MSO in 2002 after orchestra musicians cited disturbing incidences of offensive behaviour, as well as a general lack of respect and decency towards the orchestra musicians.
This week, serious allegations against Dutoit have been coming to light, and come as no surprise to many in the industry who have known about his transgressions for years.
Earlier this week, the Associated Press (AP) released allegations made by four women alleging to have been attacked by Charles Dutoit in five US cities. Since then, several orchestras have broken their ties with the famed conductor, including the Boston Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony and the Chicago Symphony.
Dutoit has responded by denying all allegations against him.
“The allegations made against me are as shocking to me as they are to my friends and colleagues. I do not recognize the man or the actions being described in the media,” he said in a statement to the AP.
“Whilst informal physical contact is commonplace in the arts world as a mutual gesture of friendship, the serious accusations made involving coercion and forced physical contact have absolutely no basis in truth. I am taking legal advice and plan to meaningfully defend myself and I believe within this current climate, media accusations on serious physical abuse do not help society tackle these issues properly if the claims are in fact not true.”
The MSO offered no further details as to the details of the sexual harassment complaint, and we will update the story once we learn more.