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New allegations of sexual assault have been filed against James Levine, the music director emeritus of the Metropolitan Opera in New York and its director for more than forty years. Levine was suspended from his post during the weekend, and now, with more denunciations made public, the repercussions for the applauded musician continue to accumulate.
The first public accusation was made when a police report presented in 2016 was provided anonymously to the New York Post and The New York Times . That accuser was later revealed as the violinist and pianist Ashok Pai. Three others have emerged publicly: bassist and teacher Chris Brown, who now lives in Minnesota; James Lestock, a cellist in North Carolina; and violinist Albin Ifsich, a lifelong member of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Ifsich told the Times that he was a 20-year-old student at Meadow Brook School of Music in Michigan when Levine, who was then a teacher in the summer program, allegedly started abusing him. Pai, Lestock and Brown were all teenagers when it was said that the alleged abuse had occurred.
Levine's management did not return several requests for comments.
Pai's alleged abuse began when he was 15 years old, while attending the Ravinia Music Festival in Illinois, a prominent summer program that trains aspiring professional musicians, and which Levine directed as music director from 1971 to 1993. A spokesperson State prosecutor, where Pai filed his police report, told the Post that he accuses have not been filed against Levine, but that the case is still under review. In the case of Pai, the statute of limitations for sexual assault of a minor in that state has expired.
Rumors of Levine's conduct have swirled around the driver for years, including an anonymous letter sent to the Met's executive director in 1979 by the Times . The letter prompted a response from the Met's executive director at the time, Anthony A. Bliss: "Defamatory rumors have been circulating for some months and have often been accompanied by other charges that we know are in fact false." They did not meet public accusers until Ashok Pai showed up.
The Metropolitan Opera announced on Sunday that it had suspended its relationship with Levine and had removed him as director of several future performances. The Juilliard School, the alma mater of Levine, also replaced it in a presentation scheduled for February with the Juilliard Orchestra and singers of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Met.
Met general manager Peter Gelb told the Times that his company learned of Pai's accusations last year, when Illinois police contacted the administration, but told the Times that had been waiting for the police to act before going ahead with theirs. After the initial reports were published, the Met's press office issued a statement saying that it was beginning its own investigation. He also told Times that the Met's top management knew of complaints about Levine since 1979. "While we await the results of the investigation, based on these new news reports, the Met has made the decision to act now, this is a tragedy for anyone whose life has been affected, "Gelb wrote.
Several powerful male figures in high-profile roles have faced repercussions on accusations of harassment and sexual assault in recent months, including two members High-ranking NPR News Staff: Reflecting a cultural change in the way these cases are received and handled. Levine, a leading figure in the world of classical music, was appointed to multiple high-level functions in major orchestras and organizations, including many events such as Ravinia, throughout his decades-long career.
The Citizen Penguin the student newspaper of the Juilliard School, published a letter on Monday written by its student council requesting that Levine be replaced as director of that upcoming concert and that the school issue a statement on the situation. "We look forward to the day when sexual abuse by leaders in our fields is unthinkable, but we know that it is still too common, in this case, we believe that a quick and meaningful response is a necessary step towards that vision." The president of Juilliard, Joseph W. Polisi, and the dean of the school, Ara Guzelimian, did it on the same day. "In light of recent reports, Mr. Levine will no longer be directing the concert, we are now actively seeking a director to take the concert in. The Juilliard School is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for all members. of the community., "their joint letter said, in part.
The Ravinia Festival in Illinois, which is also the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, ended its relationship with the director in the wake of Pai's accusations. In a statement provided to NPR, the festival says it has "cut all ties" with the conductor, who "was to start a five-year tenure as an orchestra conductor in the summer of 2018. Ravinia maintains a policy and culture zero tolerance sexual harassment We are deeply concerned and saddened by the allegations and sympathize with all those who were injured. "
The Boston Symphony Orchestra, where Levine was music director from 2004-11, issued a statement on Sunday, wrote that he had "adhered to a due diligence process" before hiring Levine and that "he was never approached by anyone in relation to inappropriate behavior by Mr. Levine." Reached for clarification, a spokesperson for the Orchestra said the statement also applies to the Tanglewood Music Festival, the summer house of the BSO and also one of the world's best-known training programs for music students. Levine was a regular presence at the Tanglewood Festival.
A scheduled concert by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which will be hosted by Levine at the May Festival next spring, was also canceled on Sunday. "A replacement driver will be announced at a future date," said a festival spokesman and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra yesterday Cincinnati Enquirer . Levine, a native of Cincinnati, led the festival in the mid-1970s. At the request of more comments from the executive director of the May Festival, Steven R. Sunderman, it was not immediately returned.
In a statement to Cleveland The Plain Dealer on Monday, the Cleveland Orchestra, where Levine was an apprentice and assistant director in the 1960s, said: "We are not aware of any complaints made during his time with the orchestra ", Levine worked with the orchestra for the last time in 1970.
The American Federation of Musicians & Local # 802, the union that represents the orchestra musicians as well as the choir of the Metropolitan Opera, He also issued a statement Monday saying, in part: "We are horrified and disgusted by the sexual abuse allegations recently reported by Mr. Levine." The Metropolitan Opera has an obligation to all employees to provide a safe and secure workplace. free from sexual harassment and discrimination. "
In a second statement issued today that he added to his original, the Boston Symphony Orchestra writes it" and the classical music industry must reflect Seriously about this moment and determine ways to ensure that sexual misconduct does not take place in our industry. "
Anastasia Tsioulcas contributed the reports.