Unlike lawyer-vetted statements by other orchestras distancing themselves from the disgraced ex-music director, the Boston Symphony has let its feelings show in a belated announcement last night.
It calls his alleged conduct ‘horrific’ and says Boston will never work with him again.
In light of the recent horrific allegations against James Levine outlined in various media accounts since December 2, there is no doubt that the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the classical music industry must seriously reflect on this moment and determine ways to ensure sexual misconduct has no place in our industry. Though the Boston Symphony Orchestra (including Tanglewood and the Boston Pops, among other programs) meets top industry standards on all issues of employee safety, the orchestra is reviewing its policies regarding work place abuse and harassment issues to make certain they continue to meet and exceed the highest standards. In the new year, the BSO plans to convene a symposium with human resource experts who specialize in policy-making around these relevant issues to ensure the safest possible environment for all involved in our organization.
The BSO is committed to a zero-tolerance policy towards anyone who exhibits inappropriate behavior in the workplace. Behavior by any employee of the BSO that runs counter to these core values would not be tolerated and would be met with the most serious consequences.
While considering hiring James Levine as music director, through a third party, the Boston Symphony Orchestra adhered to due diligence in line with its employee hiring process, including a background check with a criminal screening and an analysis of any possible civil claims, as well as numerous conversations with music professionals across the country associated with Mr. Levine throughout his long career. Although the current allegations paint a different story about Mr. Levine, the BSO’s vetting process in 2001 did not reveal cause for concern.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra has not worked with James Levine since he stepped down as music director in 2011; he will never be employed or contracted by the BSO at any time in the future.
Clearly, it’s not enough just to go through an HR vetting procedure. As several of us wrote at the time, Boston’s hiring of Levine as music director was a spectacularly obtuse decision.