Exclusive: Royal Academy of Music suspends head of opera

Exclusive: Royal Academy of Music suspends head of opera


norman lebrecht

November 25, 2019

A message went out a few minutes ago from the principal of the Royal Academy of Music, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, announcing the immediate suspension of Gareth Hancock.

Hancock, who was sacked by Glyndebourne last week after a complaint of inappropriate texting by a singer he was coaching, is Head of Royal Academy Opera, a senior and vital position.

Sources tell us he had been on a warning over similar conduct in the past year.

Nobody at the RAM was available for comment, but we’ve received several leaks of the principal’s email.

It reads:

Dear Staff and Students

As of this morning, Gareth Hancock is suspended from the Royal Academy of Music.

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood.

We asked the RAM to clarify. The reply? ‘The Academy has no further comment at this time.’


  • Finally says:

    A whole minute, and nobody is rushing to his defence to claim that the RAM was being unfair? Amazing. Surely a first for this site, too.

    So many people on the previous post said “a promising young man” demonstrating that they knew absolutely nothing about Gareth, yet were willing to speak up for him. Get bent.

    • RW says:

      I agree! As a previous student of RAM, I can’t believe it has taken them this long to get rid of him. The amount of times I was witness to his disgusting behaviour, and the amount of complaints they had from fellow students, you would have thought they would have listened sooner.

    • Maria says:

      Perhaps people realise that it’s best to keep quiet when you don’t know the facts other than an inappropriate text!

    • Cynical Bystander says:

      “So many people on the previous post said “a promising young man” demonstrating that they knew absolutely nothing about Gareth, yet were willing to speak up for him.”

      Whilst you clearly do?

      Perhaps you could share his perfidy with those of us who perhaps felt that the matter was dealt with sensitively by Glyndebourne without the unnecessary input of SD and the subsequent headlines citing the ‘exclusive’ source?

      • Singer says:

        The contents of the text are too vulgar to repeat in full, but it made explicit reference to coaching a kind of “-job” that certainly wasn’t in that person’s contract.

      • Finally says:

        Yeah, being previously from the very same institution and having worked with him, I’d advise you to shut up.

    • Karl says:

      It could be a real transgression he got fired for or it could be nothing as it was in the John Copley firing at the Met. People get unfairly fired all the time, and it’s getting worse in this oppressive PC climate.

      • Finally says:

        Absolutely laughable. “Oppressive PC climate” is a phrase only used unironically by people who think they should be allowed to make unwarranted advances on others any time they like and suffer no consequences for it.

      • Al says:

        I’m still astonished at the defence people put up for Copley – also a regular face at RAM. Stories of his inappropriate behaviour abound and somehow got written off as “Dear old Uncle John”. Just as much of a sex-pest as Hancock, if not more so.

    • Thank god says:

      Couldn’t agree more. I despair at how some people react to this kind of thing- always blaming the victim it’s shocking.

  • Foolish man says:

    You say over texting. I would suggest that this text, the contents on which are repulsive, was the straw that broke the camels back. Everyone in the industry seems to have been aware of this mans reputation. The wave of support for him is deafening in its silence.

  • Calvin says:

    For some, a celebrity-to-lechery ratio apparently governs the line of acceptability. Hancock comes up way short on the celebrity side of the equation and nobody stands to benefit by kissing his ass.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Where I come from an ass is a dumb animal in the species of mule or donkey. I’m sure the animal would enjoy the occasional kiss, since at least one of these animals is at a genetic dead-end!!!

  • JM says:

    I have to say… it’s about time. As a former student (one of the many who wouldn’t have felt comfortable in a room with this man) this came as no surprise to me what so ever. I’m relieved for future students and their safety. As for RAM and their incredibly slow up take on this – I’m afraid they deserve to have the spotlight flooded on them for this for a good long while.

  • TruthTalker says:

    Principal and Deputy Principal have a LOT to answer for. They let this stuff happen despite numerous complaints. Heads will roll and quite justifiably.

    • Singer says:

      Sadly at RAM it’s unlikely that heads will roll, except that of Hancock’s… eventually.
      An exposé into the RAM principal’s (lack of) action in the many similar cases to this would be really worth Norman’s time.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      What I constantly wonder is ‘where are people’s guts’? Why not say loudly to the offender, “look, bugger off old man, would you – we’re tired of the gag”. That way management doesn’t need to be involved.

  • TruthTalker says:

    Until you ever experience this you will not understand the problem. Until you are in a position where the power dynamics are as in these examples, you will not understand the problem. The people affected are both women and men. The complaints are not just pathetic laddish sexual comments (which I think you believe they are): he is a bully. A person in his position should not be bullying anyone, period. Management must be involved now because they ignored and refused to act on repeated complaints. I can’t stress their cowardice enough.

  • Martha says:

    It’s so typical of this bandwagon-jumping. I’ve always found Gareth H to be exemplary in his good behaviour and fine musicianship and it’s cowardly of Mr Freeman-Attwood simply to bow to political pressure. This is yet another example of the dark, bullying side of the me too movement.

    • I was there says:

      Martha, you clearly know nothing about what has been going on? But, I’ll give you the benefit of doubt, and perhaps you could explain what you think has been going on here? Calling for a known bully and those that protected him (which lead to more bullying), to be held to account, does not in turn make that person a bully. That logic is hugely naive and damaging.

      • Recent RAM graduate says:

        I’m with “I was there” – I’m a recent RAM graduate. I personally know at least six RAM singers that have complained to the powers-that-be about Gareth over the past two years. This should have come sooner, and it shouldn’t have taken the Glyndebourne sacking for RAM to get rid.

  • Nerd. says:

    I feel sorry for his family as they have nothing to do with his behaviour.