This Week in Classical Music 12/31/17

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Dutoit "Released" after Harassment Allegations;

"Street Symphony" aims to help LA's Homeless.


It’s “This Week in Classical Music”—an update on what’s happening in the classical music world—I’m Randy Kinkel.


Charles Dutoit, the 81-year-old conductor and artistic director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, has been accused of sexual assault by six female musicians.

The alleged incidents took place between 1985 and 2010. The women accuse him of pressing himself against them, forcibly kissing them and groping them.

two-time Grammy Award Winner soprano Sylvia McNair alleged that when she was 28, Dutoit "tried to have his way" with her at a hotel, after a rehearsal with the Minnesota Orchestra in 1985. Retired mezzo-soprano Paula Rasmussen, recalled how Dutoit “threw me against the wall, shoved my hand down his pants and shoved his tongue down my throat”.

The orchestra  released a statement saying that it, along with Dutoit, “have jointly agreed to release him from his forthcoming concert obligations with the orchestra for the immediate future,” “the RPO believes that the truth of the matter should be determined by the legal process”

Dutoit has also been fired from other positions with orchestras in San Francisco, Boston and Sydney, and orchestras in New York, Chicago and Cleveland have all cancelled his appearances with them.

Dutoit calls the allegations “shocking... I do not recognize the man or the actions being described in the media… the serious accusations made involving coercion and forced physical contact have absolutely no basis in truth.”  He said.

The Swiss-born Dutoit made his conducting debut in 1959 after a spell as a viola player, and has had a long and distinguished career since, winning two Grammy awards, and has led other prestigious orchestras across the world.


On LA’s Skid Row, Violinist Vijay Gupta has created a new model for how musical institutions should engage with the world around them, with his program, “Street Symphony”. “I’m really bothered by some forms of outreach,” Gupta said  “You have to wonder who it’s actually for. A bunch of musicians show up, play music, and leave. If you’re going to make any difference, you have to show up a lot more often, and not just when you feel like it.

"This community is one defined by trauma. In their lives, someone didn’t show up. We gotta show up.”

Soon after Gupta moved to L.A., he got to know homeless musician Nathaniel Ayers, who had been a star double-bass student at Juilliard before paranoid schizophrenia forced him to drop out. LA Times writer Steve Lopez published a book about Ayers, “The Soloist,” which subsequently became a film.

THAT’s when he had the idea for Street Symphony; and along with Mitch Newman, another member of the L.A. Phil violin section, and others, created a program combining  Musical performance with education, recovery and work/study elements aiming to bring help and hope along with music, to the residents of LA’s Skid Row.



For more on these and other items and events, go to the website, K-B-A-C-H dot org; Be listening each week at this time for another update. Follow us on Facebook and twitter, and also listen every weekday at Noon for the Most Wanted Hour with Linda Cassidy, playing your top 100 classical hits.  I’m Randy Kinkel for KBACH’s “This Week in Classical Music”; Member supported 89.5 KBAQ Phoenix and HD, a service of Rioo Salado College and Arizona State University.