Cleveland Orchestra fires two first chairs

The Cleveland Orchestra has dismissed its concertmaster, William Preucil, and principal trombonist, Massimo La Rosa, after an independent investigation found evidence that they had engaged in sexual misconduct.

A team from the New York law firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, after conducting more than 70 interviews, wrote that Preucil “engaged in sexual misconduct or sexually harassing behavior with at least 12 female musicians while he was employed by the [o]rchestra. Debevoise also received indirect reports that Preucil engaged in misconduct with eight additional women.”

Preucil, Cleveland’s concertmaster since 1995 and a professor at Cleveland Institute of Music until resigning from its faculty in July, admitted to investigators that he had engaged “in sexual contact with three female students during or after lessons, and said that his behavior on all three occasions was wrong. He admitted to telling a sexually explicit story to one female violinist. He denied engaging in any other acts of misconduct. Preucil refused to answer a number of questions, which largely focused on sexual activity with women who had not already been identified in the press.”

Allegations of misconduct by Preucil, which had been published in Cleveland area media, became more widely known after a July 25 investigate report by Anne Midgette and Peggy McGlone was published in The Washington Post. The article also aired charges against the chief conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Daniele Gatti, who was subsequently dismissed.

Trombonist La Rosa admitted to investigators that he engaged in “appropriate behavior” with a female student at the University of Iowa prior to joining the Cleveland Orchestra in 2007. The Debevoise team also found evidence that “La Rosa also engaged in at least six additional instances of sexual misconduct while employed with the [o]rchestra, bringing the total to seven confirmed instances of misconduct.” La Rosa was suspended this year from the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music.

The Debevoise report, issued on Oct. 23, concludes that the orchestra’s management “should have done more to investigate reports of sexual misconduct by both Preucil and La Rosa.”

Since the charges surfaced, the Cleveland Orchestra has revised its anti-harassment policy and adopted a set of “ethical principles” outlining standards of personal and professional conduct.

UPDATE: The publishing firm that controls Suzuki method instructional violin recordings, the current version of which are played by Preucil, has announced that it will re-record them with a different violinist, The Post’s Midgette and McGlone report:

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