College honours journalist who exposed its violin prof as a sex-pest

College honours journalist who exposed its violin prof as a sex-pest


norman lebrecht

March 16, 2023

Message from the Cleveland Institute of Music:

We are pleased to announce that one of the nation’s preeminent music journalists, Anne Midgette, will be recognized as CIM’s 2023 Honorary Doctorate of Musical Arts recipient.

She has guided the national conversation on music not only in the Washington Post and the New York Times, but also in The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and Opera News, among other major publications, and lectured or held residencies at several universities and conservatories. Throughout her career, she has advanced social media as a platform for music criticism and sparked frank conversations about inclusivity, accountability and the future of classical music.

“It’s an amazing honor to be recognized in this way, in such company, by a school with such stature and history of excellence” says Midgette.

In July 2018, Anne wrote an article naming William Preucil, concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra and professor at the Institute, as a serial sex-pest.

Preucil, after a few drinks, asked her back to his hotel room for a cigar. But once in his room she says he began aggressively kissing her, opening her buttons, pushing her onto the bed. She says she was stunned and horrified, and fought him off and ran home. A few minutes later, he called her and threatened to blacklist her if she told anybody, she says. 

Preucil was fired months later from both of his jobs. Oddly, the CIM does not mention Anne’s scoop about itself in her citation.


  • Jenny Davis says:

    Why would they decide to make commencement, one of life’s major events for students and parents, about this?

  • Tiredofitall says:

    And why in God’s name did she agree to go to his hotel room alone? Did her mama neglect this in their talk? You never put yourself in potentially compromising situations. That is why they invented hotel bars and lobbies. Similarly, I don’t go to Times Square at 2 a.m.

    • Tom says:

      Even if it was reckless, it’s still not her fault.
      These predictable dirty old pieces of s*** teachers that infested (still do to a limited degree) the classical music world need to be jailed or defamed when possible.

      • Guest says:

        I know women never use their visual assets to put themselves in a favorable position with a man. And I’m sure students ask their teachers out for a drink all the time, though it hasn’t happened to me in 30 years of teaching. But is it possible that the concertmaster simply read the signs wrong? The journalist, choosing to hand one person, deserving or not, the megaphone to tell their version of a story is hardly some kind or hero. More of an assassin of reputations.

      • Guest says:

        Your words scare me a lot more than Preucil, Dutoit, or Domingo.

    • CIM alum says:

      Tiredofitall, you’re going to victim blame a young woman navigating a situation with a gross power differential involving a charming, serial sexual predator who everyone knew could make or break your career? Bad look! assuming you are male identified, or else you would get this.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      Yes always blame the woman (who had no reason to expect this based on prior behavior unlike say Domingo etc). Not the perpetrator.

  • Larry W says:

    To be clear, the victim of the offensive behavior described above was violinist Zeneba Bowers. Anne Midgette and Peggy McGlone wrote the article. In addition to Preucil, the article named James Levine, Charles Dutoit, Daniel Lipton, and Bradley Gardner.

  • Art says:

    So she decided to go to a man’s hotel room to play an innocent game a Twister?

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Too true. As I commented earlier, I don’t walk in Times Square at 2 a.m. If I did, I give up my victim card.

      • Sisko24 says:

        You’re behind the times, Tiredofitall. These days, Times Square at 2 a.m. is safer than many upper East Side Manhattan streets in the daytime.

  • Gerry Feinsteen says:

    “Violinist Zeneba Bowers was 26 when she says she asked William Preucil, the concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, out for a drink after a lesson in 1998.”

    That’s the opening of the 2018 Washington Post article. I’m not from the world of performing arts (although architecture is a performance of sorts), but I find that behavior already crosses a line. To ask a professor out for a drink—is that normal? Alcohol and coffee aren’t exactly the same thing—coffee seems innocuous, but alcohol is more associated with intimacy.
    Not to diminish what she says about the rest of the night, but I can’t help wondering what would happen if a male student asked a male professor out for a drink after a class. Would that be normal behavior for a performing arts student?

    • Tiredofitall says:

      It is not normal, you are correct. Regardless of the age differential, a student/professor relationship is professional by nature. It is the only way to maintain the balance. Being friendly is not being friends.

      She was wrong to suggest a drink and he was wrong to accept. The he was wrong to suggest a visit to his hotel room and she was wrong to accept. It isn’t nuclear science.

      • Gerry Feinsteen says:

        Perhaps we can agree that she was wrong first? Yet, she gets to keep her job.
        At the same time—the article also mentions that she was trying to get professional information out of the violinist, beyond the lesson. Was she not using him from the start?
        That her proposal to a night out with drinks gets no criticism is a degree of privilege most men would never be granted.
        She accepted his offer to the hotel room. At age 26? That’s old enough to know it wasn’t to see the latest episode of Letterman or Leno.

  • a thought says:

    The violinist, Zeneba Bowers, who came forward about Preucil and who risked far more than the journalist, is the one who should be given a doctorate.

  • EagleArts says:

    The death of personal responsibility. Thanks Anne.

  • A retired musician says:

    If I recall “the victim” immigrated to Italy during the lockdowns. Billy boy’s daughter also had to leave the Cleveland orchestra and moved to Europe! All coincidence?

  • StopVictimBlaming says:

    To all you misogynistic, victim blaming, cowards responding on this article, about which you clearly know NOTHING, let me set you straight.
    It takes courage and balls that are bigger than yours to take a stand against sexual violence in all its forms. You, and the perpetrators of rape, harassment, abuse, misconduct, and fear mongering are the lowest of the low. One of you made the asinine assumption that men never ask their professors out for drinks, and you couldn’t be more wrong. (I’m looking at you Gerry Feinsteen) And you are also ignorant and wrong to assume that men are never victims of sexual assault, abuse, harassment or misconduct. Unfortunately as long as people like you believe they way you believe, people in positions of power who abuse that power will continue to go on believing it is their right to do so. And brave and courageous victims will have to bear their souls and be subjected to much more scrutiny than their abusers for coming forward.