BSO report finds new claims of sexual misconduct by conductor

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File 2014

The BSO is among a host of symphony orchestras to abandon Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit.

By Globe Staff 

Boston Symphony Orchestra guest conductor Charles Dutoit sexually harassed four women associated with the BSO, according to an investigation recently completed for the symphony by an independent investigator.

The investigation, which stemmed from a woman’s allegation last December that Dutoit sexually assaulted her during the summer of 1997, found three other women who “credibly described incidents in the 1980s and 1990s in which they too were victims of sexual misconduct by Mr. Dutoit.”


The symphony did not describe the nature of Dutoit’s alleged sexual improprieties or identify the three other women, describing them only as “current and former BSO employees.”

The investigation also confirmed the account of Fiona Allan, who told the Globe last January that Dutoit pressed her against a wall and groped her breast while she was working as an intern at Tanglewood music festival in the summer of 1997.

The symphony said the investigator found that “neither Ms. Allan nor the other women complained to the BSO, and there were no indications that BSO management was aware of Mr. Dutoit’s alleged sexual misconduct prior to Ms. Allan’s public statements in late December and early January.”

In an earlier interview with the Globe, however, Allan said that immediately following the Dutoit incident she encountered then-BSO orchestra manager Ray Wellbaum, who warned her — belatedly — about visiting the conductor alone.

“Before you see maestro, I need to tell you something,” she recalled Wellbaum telling her. “Look, we advise, we’ve had some complaints, and I wouldn’t go in there alone.”


Allan recalled telling Wellbaum: “‘Well Ray, I think it’s too late, because I just did, and I think I know why you’re telling me that.’” Allan said she did not share details of the incident with Wellbaum.

Allan, who now serves as artistic director and chief executive at the Birmingham Hippodrome, told the Globe last January she believed Wellbaum thought he was looking out for her.

“But the thing that always struck me afterwards was: They had a system in place,” she said. “And the system was called: Don’t go in there by yourself. Like, we’ve had complaints, therefore the way we get around that is that we send people in in pairs. Not: We don’t employ that person anymore.”

The BSO, which cut ties with Dutoit late last year, is among a host of symphony orchestras to abandon Dutoit after the Associated Press published a report last December in which four women accused the Swiss conductor of sexually assaulting them in a variety of cities between 1985 and 2010.

Dutoit, who recently stepped down as principal conductor and artistic director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, in London, was one of the BSO’s most frequent guest conductors, leading the symphony as early as 1981 and as recently 2017.

In light of its investigation, the BSO has stripped Dutoit of his honorary title of 2016 Koussevitzky Artist, which the symphony bestowed on the conductor during the 2016 Tanglewood season.


Dutoit did not respond immediately to a request for comment to the Globe.

The report’s findings come amid a Globe investigation into former BSO music director James Levine. The Globe investigation found that during his early career Levine, who also led New York’s Metropolitan Opera for 40 years, attracted a cult-like group of students, some of whom allege Levine sexually and emotionally exploited them.

“Let me be clear that we want to send a strong message that any form of sexual harassment or assault goes completely against our values and will not be tolerated,” BSO managing director Mark Volpe said in a written statement. “The Boston Symphony Orchestra is extraordinarily thankful to the women who participated in its independent investigation and shared information about their experiences, and wants them and the entire BSO community to know that all reports of sexual misconduct will be taken seriously, investigated, and handled expeditiously and appropriately.”

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