Orchestra boss emails new wife: I’m leaving the marriage

Orchestra boss emails new wife: I’m leaving the marriage


norman lebrecht

August 05, 2015

The extraordinary ascent of Toronto Symphony Orchestra chief executive Jeff Melanson continues unabated.

While at the Banff Centre, where he wrought havoc among the resident artists, Melanson gave ‘family reasons’ as the cause for his return to Toronto. Soon, he was divorced. Soon after, he was walking out with the glamorous Eleanor McCain, heiress to a frozen potato-chips fortune.

In no time at all, the couple were being pictured in Hello magazine as Toronto’s power pair and he was headlined as ‘Canada’s cultural turnaround man’. In April 2014, Eleanor married Melanson.

jeff melanson eleanor mccain

Nine months later, she became the astonished victim of his next turnaround.

Here’s what she tells The Star:

Their first Christmas together: lovely. By the middle of January, however — with a bolt and akin to something out of sad-sack chick-lit — her husband, she says, announced he was moving out.

She never saw him after that, she says now. Not once.

“A couple of weeks later,” she goes on, “he sent me an email saying he was leaving the marriage.”

It surprised her?

“It surprised me.”

Entirely surprised her?

“Entirely surprised me.”

No comment from Melanson. Full story here.

UPDATE March 2016: What Jeff did next.


  • Neven P says:

    Can anybody pass her contact info to me? I am better looking than him and can play the piano, too!

  • Olassus says:

    I eat frozen potato-chips right out of the bag.

  • John says:

    So like some empty suit in an executive position. Send an email. What an a–hole

    • Doug says:

      But orchestra boards continue to swoon over smooth talking charlatans like this. And that goes for the muic directors too. An unskilled hack with a British accent can go far in North America.

      • Jewelyard says:

        Doug, surely you’re not referring to Peter Oundjian – an extremely skilled and brilliant musician who more than demonstrated his artistry as first violin of the Tokyo Quartet prior to becoming a world class conductor in constant demand? He happens to have a British accent, so just checking…

        • Martin says:

          Sounding a little over defensive, Peter? Are you the only one with a British accent? Quick, look over your shoulder, it’s a real musican!

        • AndyPandy says:

          World class conductor????? You have to be joking. The TSO will have been his only resident job. Why? Because he’s barely average.

  • The Angry New Yorker says:

    Hah, so many uncivilized ways to break up in the 21st century for celebrities and regular folk: first there was “Sex in the City” with Carrie Bradshaw and her famous break up with Berger via a “post it”; then actress Charlize Theron with her equally thoughtful ghosting” of actor Sean Penn (apparently a way of breaking up that involves not returning text messages). Now we have email — yet another charming way to say “Ciao”, when you don’t have enough b**** to face someone.

  • Keepingitreal says:

    “He holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, where he studied opera, Russian art song, and choral conducting. Melanson also pursued vocal studies at the Oberlin Conservatory. He holds an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo”

    Another musician who “turned around” to do administration. Any experience in any other industry? Zip. Any formal business training? Zip.

    Its the reality of the cultural industry around the world.

    And they dare to ask: “why are the arts struggling??” ….

    You put the plumber to do your finances, I guarantee your finances will struggle.

  • Andy says:

    How sociopathic. He handled the matter like a selfish, cowardly teenager without life experience who simply doesn’t know better.

    Of course there was a pre-nup. Duh. Scuttlebutt is that he’s emerged with a hefty surplus of McCain cash. And a lifetime supply of Superfries.

    I wonder what female donors to the Toronto Symphony will decide when they get a fund-raising letter signed by Jeff asking for THEIR money.

    What did the TSO board saw in him when they decided to hire him. A prudent, conscientious, mature leader?

    He sure showed them.

  • M.D. says:

    Melanson’s obviously got Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Classic narcissist relationship behavior. http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/idealize-devalue-discard-the-dizzying-cycle-of-narcissism-0325154