Chris Ling, remembered by one of his US artists

The former violin teacher at Chetham’s who shot himself last week to avoid extradition on child abuse charges was a not-very successful artists manager in the US. One of the soloists on his roster was Frank Almond, concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Frank had his suspicions about Chris:

‘I could immediately sense that something about Chris didn’t quite add up; he was a monumental character even over the phone, simultaneously thoroughly charming and utterly consumed by his own arrogance, sitting in Beaumont. He was also clearly highly intelligent, with a broad knowledge of not only the classical music business (at the time) but also an almost encyclopedic mastery of most elements of playing, teaching, or performing on the violin.’

Read more here.

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  • Doug says:

    Much of what Frank Almond writes about Christopher Ling is true, although I wouldn’t be so quick to dance on his grave. As an orchestra manager who booked artists I proabably met Chris the same number of times Frank did. I also found him extremely charming and generous and yes, an egotist too. He was well noted for the extravaganzas he hosted during League conferences. We used to chuckle when he would call the office. He was very persistent, more than the other booking agents, but essentially lacked the skill to “close” the deal. A very sad tale indeed.

    • Frank says:

      Apologies if the article wasn’t clear on it, but nobody’s dancing on anyone’s grave. This is a profound human tragedy, no more so than for his accusers and his immediate family, including a teenage daughter. My interactions with him pale in comparison.

  • william osborne says:

    There have been a lot of reports on this site about the sexual abuse of children. It might be helpful if teachers and administrators were more adept at stopping potential problems before they happen. Given the one-one-one nature of music education, it seems like music ed programs should include special training on how to spot potential abuse. Here is a list characteristics I found listed on the web that can be watched for:

    • Misses or ignores social cues about others’ personal or sexual limits and boundaries?
    • Often has a “special” child friend, maybe a different one from year to year?
    • Spends most of his/her spare time with children and shows little interest in spending time with someone their own age?
    • Encourages silence and secrets in children?
    • Links sexuality and aggression in language or behavior, e.g. sexualized threats or insults, like “whore” or “slut”?
    • Makes fun of children’s body parts, describes children with sexual words like “stud” or “sexy” or talks again and again about the sexual activities of children or teens?
    • Has an interest in sexual fantasies involving children and seems unclear about what’s appropriate with children?
    • Looks at child pornography or downloads/views Internet pornography and is not willing to show whether children are involved?
    • Asks adult partners to dress or act like a child or teen during sexual activity? Personal safety/responsibility
    • Has been known to make poor decisions while misusing drugs or alcohol?
    • Justifies behavior, defends poor choices or harmful acts; blames others to refuse responsibility for behaviors?
    • Minimizes hurtful or harmful behaviors when confronted; denies harmfulness of actions or words despite a clear negative impact?

  • David Oberg says:

    I found Messrs Says, Almond, and Osborne’s comments and more than thought provoking. Without a doubt the whole sickening affair, from beginning to end, is an unimaginable tragedy.
    I, too, was on Mr. Ling’s roster for a number of years. A parting of the ways with CHL Artists came about slightly over a decade ago. By the way, I have many good memories working with Mr. Almond (members of the orchestra encouraged me to reengage him as soon as possible and, sadly, that did not happen.) and I also enjoyed my collaboration with Mr Ling’s widow.
    I review arts grants and, in my comments, continually counsel applicants’ governing boards to do background checks on every artist (musician, visual artist, dancer, actor, guest soloist, etc.), staff member, board member, volunteer, etc. who could have any contact with a child or young person. I also work on-call at one of the top ten medical schools. Everyone there is vetted with a background check along with sexual harassment and yearly HIPAA training. There is also a confidential whistle-blower policy (not a bad idea for performing arts/educational organizations, too). The goal is to be professionally proactive, ensure safety, provide an excellent education, instill the highest level of care possible, and, frankly, to avoid law suits. Performing arts organizations, musicians, schools, educators, administrators, parents, and, yes, funders should insist upon applicable due diligence.
    It is sad indeed that those of us in the arts may to do our own background checks on studio teachers and private (vs. state) institutions with whom we may have a professional and educational relationship.
    I truly hope Mr Ling’s family and his victims find some semblance of peace.

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