Lara St John keeps her story alive

Lara St John keeps her story alive


norman lebrecht

September 09, 2019

The violinist organised a small weekend gathering in New York to draw attention to allegations of rape by her late Curtis tutor, Jascha Brodsky.

She read out 400 solidarity emails. The Philadelphia Inquirer sent a reporter.

Performers at the event included Dan Cooper, Kristina Cooper, Emily Duncan, Camille Haris, Matt Herskowitz, Erik T. Johnson, Claire Lim and Milica Paranosic.


  • Michael Smith says:

    Brodsky’s supporters have been very busy deleting any reference to the allegations in his Wikipedia article.

  • Leopold says:

    A very cheap way to get some publicity to keep going a career that was going down the tubes!

    • Bruce says:

      I wonder if your definition of “down the tubes” matches hers…

    • Bill says:

      You think this story is leading to a lot of bookings, do you? Why would that be? I would think any sympathy factor would be offset by the “cheap ploy to sell tickets” viewpoint.

    • MG says:

      Every time I see a man angrily complaining about a woman coming forward with her story of abuse, I wonder what particular skeletons he has in his own closet.

    • Nick says:

      She probably just realized the window of time to pose nude for album covers has passed, so this is her outlet to get attention. Anyone know by the way who the ‘anonymous donor’ was that bought her the G.B. Guadagnini violin? Was it her Dad?

      • Denise says:

        And the September Troll Award goes to….

      • Jonathan Harvey says:

        Your comment prompted me to do some research about your assertions.

        Lara St. John’s father died in 1990.

        She won the first choice of instruments in the Canada Council Instrument Bank Competition, the 1702 Lyall Stradavarius in 1997 (see Her current instrument was on loan from an anonymous source until she recently acquired it with proceeds accrued from her successful 30-year touring career. Research shows she has performed as soloist with the orchestras of Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and with the Boston Pops, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, NDR Symphony, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Ireland, Amsterdam Symphony, Brazilian Symphony, Sao Paulo Symphony, China Philharmonic, the Hong Kong, Tokyo and Kyoto Symphonies, and the orchestras of Brisbane, Adelaide and Auckland among others. I googled her press coverage and there were more than 1,852 distinct results. I only read a few but they were largely favorable.

        It is hard to see what your issue is with Lara St. John but it appears your opinions are based on information that is decoupled from the reality of her past and current achievements.

      • Laurence says:

        You and Leopold should get together for a beer and complain about these uppity women.
        “Your old road is rapidly agin’
        Please get out of the new one
        If you can’t lend your hand
        For the times they are a-changin’

      • Matt says:

        I’m sure your parents have realized that the window for your humanity has passed and have moved on to a cat

      • Angela B. says:

        Nick – seems like this is your desperate attempt to get attention!

    • Matt says:


    • Stephen says:

      Don’t be such a jerk!

    • Angry Female Musician says:

      You’re a really bad person. You clearly haven’t been in this position, that many female musicians have. Shame on you!

    • Sam clonie says:

      The rape of a child is a serious crime. Failure by the Curtis administrators at the time and today to investigate and safeguard a child was a disgrace bordering on criminal. Your comment suggests that you have an ax to grind against the victim.

    • Matt says:

      Excuse me, but wtf is wrong with you dude? Have you never been hurt before, by anyone or anything? Or were you just born a sociopath? Are you really not capable of understanding how being raped at 14 would affect someone their entire life, how much suffering it causes? And then to report it and have the school tell you to shut up and go away, repeatedly? Do you truly not understand? Do you even understand the concept of rape? That your brain is even capable of thinking that the article was just a “cheap” publicity stunt says everything we need to know about you. It’s obvious that you can’t imagine how difficult this has been for her, all the pain it’s brought up, the anguish of reliving it – you’re clearly incapable of it. And yet she went through with it, and knowing that asshole trolls like you would probably make insensitive, heartless comments, although you’ve certainly exceeded my expectations on that front! You should truly be ashamed of yourself, although I’m sure you won’t be. So I’ll do it for you – shame on you, asshole!!! Go get a therapist and dig as deep as you can to find some sliver of empathy in your soulless being… I’m sure you’ll be less miserable if you manage to.

  • Caravaggio says:


  • Ortambert says:

    The events mentioned in the original Inquirer article apparently occurred during the 1985-86 school. They were reported at the beginning of the 1986-87 school year. A simple question:

    Where were her parents?

    • anon says:

      It’s not that simple. Victims of sexual assault and rape often blame themselves for what happened to them, and it is so, so difficult to tell the people that you trust and whose opinions you value for fear that they will blame you, too. Or, perhaps, she wanted to spare her parents the pain of knowing about the attack perpetrated against her. The point is: this ordeal is not Lara’s fault, nor is it the fault of her parents.

    • Denise says:

      Your shaming comment is just the worst.

      The Curtis Institute – and every other educational institution – is legally responsible for their well-being of their students while in attendance – most especially when they are underage. This is the case with all music conservatories and athletic programs, including for gymnastics and ice skating.

      • Denise says:

        I’m trying to fathom the mentality of clicking a thumbs down on the concept that educational institutions are responsible for their underage students – this is the LAW. Or do you think that law is crap, and institutions shouldn’t be responsible? Or maybe perhaps your just – trolling. NEXT.

    • Stephen says:

      Read the Inquirer article first before being such a jerk.

    • Matt says:

      Uh, first, that is deeply personal, and not relevant to what happened, so you don’t get to ask that. And second, you think this is “simple”? There’s nothing simple about it… just so you know.

  • MG says:

    Should be mentioned that the concert was organized and produced by Paracademia, with artistic director Milica Paranosic.

  • Stephen says:

    Wow. You people are really mean.

    This poor woman was manipulated and raped as an impressionable young girl, and you are now shaming her for having the courage to stand up and shine a light on this despicable scourge that plagues our industry?

    Bravo Lara!

  • Natasha Cherny says:

    According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s second article about the crimes committed against Lara St John, “Diaz and Fretz’s statement reiterated Curtis’ intention to set up a hotline ‘so that individuals from our community will have an additional channel to report inappropriate behavior from the past or present,’ though the school again offered no details on how the hotline would be staffed or how reports would be handled.”

    “Inappropriate” and “behavior” are two words that, in and of themselves, completely negate the victim’s experience of these crimes. They deny the reality of rape, of threat of blackmail, and of the sometimes mortal consequences to women and children who suffer these crimes. Curtis Institute of Music and every other institution supporting predators––the Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, and colleges, universities, corporations, and governments everywhere need to hear this: Rape is not an “inappropriate behavior.” It is one of the most brutal crimes imaginable. It is considered a war crime under the Geneva Conventions when committed by soldiers and the states who employ them. “Committing rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, as defined in article 7, paragraph 2 (f), enforced sterilization, and any other form of sexual violence also constituting a serious violation of article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions”

    Lara St. John’s speaking out will require unbelievable fortitude and persistence; what should be remembered by those who continue to wish she would shut up is that fortitude and persistence have kept her alive since she was 14, so she is well-practiced. The blowback will be unbelievable.

    If you think the efforts to silence women have been oppressive in the past, the more we speak, the worse it will get. Of course, that will fuel the fires of people like Lara St John, and her courage and fortitude will continue to embolden those who have, until now, been too afraid or felt too powerless to speak. There IS strength in numbers and in solidarity.

    I am encouraged by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s continuing courage and commitment to cover this story––and I do NOT believe they are ONLY doing it because it will sell newspapers; I saw the reporters who came to this event, and am convinced they are genuinely affronted by the horror that Lara endured as a child.

    One last thought.

    I am one woman. 66 years and 7 months old.

    In my own family, I know of one aunt, three cousins, and one family of origin member who were victims of sexual assault and battery, and/or of rape by family members: by their fathers and brothers. The aunt who realized her husband was raping their little daughter fled immediately with her three children and came to her brother for help, not knowing he was also abusing his own kids. There have been two suicides and multiple suicide attempts. Countless, in fact.

    As an adult woman, I can barely count a woman among my friends who has not also suffered these fates.

    • One was molested and beaten regularly as a child.
    • Another was raped by her father.
    • Another was raped by a boyfriend, then told by her psychiatrist that it wasn’t rape (because he sodomized her while she repeatedly screamed NO). “Rape is rape,” he said;
    • Another was molested as a toddler by her father and raped three times as a young woman. Two of her rapists were state cops.
    • Another was molested by her brother at age 8. Then again by a neighbor at age 10 (for which SHE received a beating by her mother). Then her closest childhood friend, age 12, was raped and beaten to death, and her body left behind the tenement stairs where they lived.
    • Another was molested by her brother.
    • Another is being pimped out by her “boyfriend” and has been 3 months pregnant (according to her cardboard sign) for 3 years. She camps on the streets of Manhattan panhandling when she isn’t “working.”
    • That young woman’s mother was sexually assaulted—passed around the commune where she and her mother lived—as a child, after her parents divorced. She died under a California bridge at the age of 30.
    • Another was regularly “used” by her foster father. She became a sex worker as a teen.
    • Another was incested by her father from early childhood to the age of 17.
    • Another works at a New York hospital with victims of brain and spinal trauma. She sees patients all the time who have been raped, beaten, and left for dead by husbands and boyfriends. One of the most heartbreaking was a young Korean woman, already wheelchair-bound and 7 months pregnant, who had been beaten and her fetus beaten by her husband. She and the baby both died.

    Women have been trying, for decades, to make the magnitude of this epidemic known. Some of the worst suppressors of the information are family court judges, often women, who have internalized their oppressors.

    What I didn’t list above is all the male friends I have who were also sexually abused. One of my closest friends was incested by his mother from age 8 to 17. He is one of the loveliest people I know, and deeply feminist in spite of his experience. I don’t know how he preserved his values, and I do know he nearly lost his life to suicide because of this trauma.

    I am fairly convinced that until MEN “#MeToo,” things will not get much better, if at all. The proportion of male victims as CHILDREN is estimated to be very close to that of women. It is as adults that the statistical disparity becomes pronounced. And MANY perpetrators were victims as kids.

    Those who are suggesting that Ms. St. John’s coming forth is a heroic effort to gain publicity because of a languishing career need to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves one simple question: “If I were a presenter, would I be more inclined now to hire this violinist?” I would like to hear the answer. I don’t know Ms. St. John, and never heard play until this week at the “We Believe You” event described in the article herein, and she didn’t strike me as a musician whose career would be languishing.

  • Milica Paranosic says:

    OK all you haters out there, two things:
    1: Lara had nothing to do with organizing this concert. I did it/we did it. She wasn’t even asked to be there, necessarily. it was a community effort, supporting her. And the community came through. Because we believe her. And you should too. Or not – it’s up to you. You being made angry by something positive, supportive l, progressive and loving talks more about you than anything else.
    And 2: I have had an opportunity to help with some administrating/grant writing/cataloging for Lara. And let me tell you this: She has more bookings secured for next year than anyone I have had a chance to work with in my last 20 years of working with professional musicians. And all of them will have been scheduled way before the article came out. So you can shove your hate up your ass and Apologize. Or not.
    We really actually don’t care. And it’s hard to take you seriously.
    Milica Paranosic

  • Angela B says:

    I was deeply honored to attend the beautiful concert in support of Lara St. John – amazing violinist and courageous voice fiercely confronting the misogynist and abusive actions (which are unfortunately) pervasive in our society. The issue of sexual abuse and predation has not been adequately addressed within the classical musical community – and is in fact – mostly hushed up. Lara’s voice paves the way for women in communities of every musical genre to realize their worth and stand up to these entrenched exploitation and cruelties. BRAVA!

  • Fumiko Wellington says:

    Having also been sexually abused as a teenager, I strongly identify with Ms. St. John and applaud her bravery. I too was silenced by authorities, and my teacher continued his exploits unscathed until the end of his career.
    I dropped my music major and did not begin conservatory training until almost 10 years later, the oldest in my class.

  • Artem Wahrhaftig says:

    ……well, all those believers’ confessions are great but tiresome 🙁
    Are there any news about the Curtis? Did they officially apologize?