Curtis says sorry, again (not clear for what)

Curtis says sorry, again (not clear for what)


norman lebrecht

August 04, 2019

The following message went up on Friday on the college noticeboard. It’s the third time Curtis has said sorry without addressing the specific incident that  led to its present distress:

August 2, 2019

To the Curtis community:

At Curtis, we condemn sexual violence, racism, discrimination, harassment of any type, or any form of intimidation. We are heartbroken that there have been times in Curtis’s earlier history when the voices of its community members were not heard at critical moments when they needed the school to listen with empathy and support. We profoundly apologize to and sympathize with anyone who may have had such experiences, and sincerely regret that our past institutional culture may not have always provided the safety net needed to thoroughly address the full gamut of our community’s needs. We have zero tolerance toward all forms of abusive behavior, and we will continue to go to great lengths to prevent it.

We believe that an informed, educated, and enlightened community can improve upon its past, and we invite you to join us in this effort. As this work continues, we encourage you to visit where you can learn about the many ways in which Curtis has evolved to foster a vibrant culture while ensuring a safe and healthy campus environment.

We will continue to adapt our policies and procedures. Curtis is working with an independent vendor to establish a new hotline so that individuals from our community will have an additional channel to report inappropriate behavior from the past or present. Work on this hotline is in progress and information will be released shortly, once the hotline is active and testing is complete.

We promise to stay true to this essential work and elevate our commitment toward it.

With all best wishes,

Signature_Roberto Diaz

Roberto Díaz
President and CEO

Deborah Fretz

Deborah M. Fretz
Board Chair

The violinist Lara St John has meanwhile been retelling her ordeal to Canadian audiences here.


  • The View from America says:

    Perhaps senior leadership at the school could come up with a new initiative: Curtis Youth Advocacy — or “CYA” for short — to address the issues at hand.

    • M.S. says:

      Curtis has a serious problem. It lives in a bubble. Suddenly that bubble has burst and one can see how poorly they have addressed this issue. They seem to avoid the issue that brought this about in the first place, preferring to beat around the bush and skirt the real issue and speak directly to it and about it. That would take courage, honesty and openness, something that is not part of living in a closed bubble. I have dealt with a few Curtis staff in the recent past. While nice, I can not say that they were efficient or quick, but rather insular and a tad arrogant. That interaction in 2017 confirmed what so many colleagues in New York and Chicago had told me about Curtis, that it’s a great school if you are a student, but not a place to do business with, as it is far too insular and detached.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    We live ion the age of meaningless apologies

  • V.Lind says:

    What does “work on the hotline is in progress? mean? How hard can it be to install a phone line? Police incident rooms can be set up in remote areas in an hour.

    As for staffing and reporting, the nub of the matter: surely any professional from helplines would be qualified. Hire a few so as to staff the office 24/7, give them desks and chairs and computers to log and write their reports and get on with it. If this is the way you want to go, of course.

    Hmmm…on reflection, if Curtis thinks it needs all that, the situation must be a ot worse than it is denying!

  • Wagner says:

    Too little and WAY too late.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Wow; I’m impressed with any person or organization who can change the world, make it better, safer and protect its citizens from any and all of life’s vicissitudes.

    • Disparu says:

      the Curtis (CIM) nowadays is a tyrannical cult of some kind, which control ALL musical, educational, cultural networks in Philadelphia, also all around PA and virtually everywhere. That’s is controlling abuse, domination! concerns for future institutional reputation and profile must be a base on the career of their students-alumni. The cult always may enable / disable the generation of their stimuli for dependents ((ex-)student as an agent) well as “fair game” for independents (non-agent critics). The methods of punishment is inventively engraved in whole system for a virtual market and it’s consists: setting up
      positive — ((ex-)student as an agent) or
      negative (independent, critical of CIM system) — non-agent behavioral model:
      a) favoritism, based on submissiveness (agent type) of youngsters,
      b) slenderize and bull non-submissive youngsters for each situation, based on sordid behavioral primitive and setting up a gossip supplier agents behavioral to each profiled, labeled “non-agent”. The supplier behavioral primitives or factual delivers from dedicated decisional variables in the context of the virtual form of behavioral trends.
      So, the cult can kill.
      How – is in range of decisional variables:

      @ you are brilliant and famous Curtis graduate already, but in the difficult moment, you’re “crazy”, we’ll help you to find psychiatric institution, but Not the job you’re asking us for in the order to feed you (or your children);

      @ we can buy you a train ticket and sheep you to your “disowned parents” in conflict, who already proven never ever helped you while you were still a student, but they can deal with your desperation for work to feed you and your wife and children, so they can incapacitated you, so they can put you in the nursing home as a commodity of the state (since your wife poor too!);
      even celebrity attention to the problem: “In most states around the country, it is easier to qualify as a guardian than it is to become a hairdresser.”
      – Pamela B. Teaster, Director of gerantology center in Virginia Tech

      @ even you work was in high demand and so original, appreciated by new generation of students and public, you’re not qualified even for job even as accompanist;

      @ if you in needs of money, serve our country in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard.

      • SingularFeminine: It all matters says:

        Just to note, in one year after her brilliant graduation, on money Christina AD worked there as accompanist, CIM had to buy one-way flight from Philadelphia to Odessa. After words, she never played piano ever again, but she was not worth as others Curtis’s “stars” (LL, YW). And she was black, beautiful, fantastique, brilliant pianist, also she played the saxophone (self didact) for fun, she improvised jazz/pops on the piano instantly, she was an artist and multi-talented student, alumna, employee. She worked one year at CIM and she never felt the taste of her money she worked for. Did they spent All for ticket at ones? They never found the way to explain, nothing…

      • Curtis alum says:

        Guess things didn’t go so well for you on audition day, huh?

  • Jim says:

    Rather than vague public apologies, wouldn’t it be somewhat more elegant to reach out privately to the lady, whose experienced ignited this whole thing, and apologize directly and personally to her? I suspect this would mean more to her than yet another press release.

  • Anon says:

    Tempest in a teapot.

    Curtis has nothing to apologize for. A couple disgruntled has-beens trying to get their 15 seconds + some money is all this boils down to. If they had real evidence they’d have pressed charges.

    Much ado about exaggerated and unprovable claims.


    Rock on, Curtis.