As Orchestras in America are busy hiring their 30-something foreign conductors (obviously experienced older American conductors are not worth the trouble of considering) and musicians and management are having their usual fights about contracts, i.e. money, even forcing orchestras to cancel all or part of their seasons, there is a quiet (at least on this side of the Pond) but serious scandal that just won’t go away in the UK. There have been countless allegations of abuse of students by their professors in some of the most elite music schools.
As report in the UK’s The Independent on May 12, “a former Yehudi Menuhin School pupil describes serious abusive and inappropriate behavior. Sacha Barlow, who is now assistant principal violist at the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra in the US, studied at the Surrey-based institution until 1989. She says she “endured” her time there and it left emotional scars. Speaking from America, Ms Barlow said: ‘There was a lot of inappropriate behaviour that a number of teachers engaged in. A couple of them should not have been allowed anywhere near children.’ ”
The newspaper goes on and states, “Last week, the cellist Michal Kaznowski revealed that his former cello tutor Maurice Gendron controlled students through sadistic teaching methods over a 10-year period to 1977. A Surrey police investigation began earlier last week following allegations that the now deceased founding music director and Belgian pianist Marcel Gazelle assaulted girls in the school’s bedrooms.”
In a separate investigation, reports of sexual abuse at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester resulted in a second arrest on Friday. Duncan McTier, 58, a professor at the esteem Royal Academy of Music, was arrested on suspicion of indecently assaulting a 21-year-old student at Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music in 1994. To date, 39 teachers past and present at the Manchester schools are now under investigation and police have appealed for victims or witnesses to continue to come forward.
Of course there are plenty of denials of the alleged charges. Richard Hillier, headmaster at the Yehudi Menuhin School, said: “I am not aware of any concerns expressed by pupils or staff in the mid-1980s.”
Some come to the defense of these predators and remark what was “accepted” 25 years ago years ago is now considered criminal. Something is just not right with that type of thinking: groping, fondling, denigrating, and sadistic teaching methods were all proper behavior for a teacher at these schools in the 1980s? Sexual and physical abuse was and is illegal and immoral during ANY time period! Instructors using their positions as leverage for committing these crimes should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Let’s hope more victims come forward and that this investigation puts those who took part in this horrific behavior are punished and moreover, are NEVER allowed to go near children for the rest of their loves.