When will the sexual harassment fervor reach the world of classical music?

I asked a young violinist whether the world of classical music could be the next domino to fall as American society purges itself of accused sexual transgressors. “It’s rampant,” he responded. How can be positions be traded for sex, though, when many auditions are blind? “It is still possible to trade sex for access to the best teachers. I know of an 83-year-old teacher with a 26-year-old girlfriend. She seems to be okay with it.”

5 thoughts on “When will the sexual harassment fervor reach the world of classical music?

  1. The book “Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music” is an autobiography of an oboist, at one place the author explicitly states that a large portion of her gigs were arranged for through sex.

  2. A previous girlfriend was an orchestral violist. She often related stories of her teachers, 40-60 years her senior and always married, who tended to assume they could make passes at her with impunity. Based on her experiences and those of her female friends this appears to be common behavior in the classical music community.

  3. I know a long-married couple who are pretty successful freelance classical musicians. Aside from the fact that they’re (apparently to me) quite happily married and devoted to each other, they commented that a year or two ago they had 80ish W-2’s or 1099s from the many different groups they had played with that year. And honestly, who has that kind of time….?

  4. I have been a member of two full time professional orchestras in the US. I’ve served on audition judging committees for about 12 positions. It would be difficult for a single person to completely rig a blind orchestra audition. I’ve listened to auditions with 125 candidates for one position. There are normally 7 or more people on an audition committee and in most US orchestras a candidate must receive a majority vote to move on into the next round of the audition. The candidates are weeded out and narrowed down in a “preliminary” round and then a “semifinal” round which are usually blind. Many US orchestras remove the screen for the final round of the audition where the music director is presented with a few candidates and makes the final hiring decision. If a committee member is highly regarded by the rest of the committee and/or particularly persuasive then they might be able to use their influence to garner votes for their preferred candidate (ie “I know they missed a lot of notes on their audition but I really love their tone quality!”). During the preliminary rounds the candidates are identified only by number and it would be very easy to determine the number of your preferred candidate as you could simply have that candidate text their number to you. I’ve heard of some orchestras banning cell phone use during auditions to circumvent that although it’s hard to enforce that on a bathroom or lunch break.

    In musical academic settings it’s very common to hear of teachers sleeping with their students and I can imagine that it could help a student get freelance work.

Comments are closed.