Cleveland Institute investigates renowned conductor

Cleveland Institute investigates renowned conductor


norman lebrecht

April 30, 2023

The following emails were sent this week to all students at the Cleveland Institute of Music. We have redacted the name of the alleged offender until a process is formally instigated by CIM. At this stage, we have not approached him/her for comment.

For the benefit of non-US readers, Title IX is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities.

Dear Students,

It was with great horror that I read one of [name redacted]’s course evaluations. This is not the first time that I have heard his name – detailing inappropriate behavior of varying degrees.

As the Title IX Coordinator, it is my responsibility to address this behavior, but the law only gives me so much room to do so. Without hearing details of behavior that clearly violates Title IX, or without individuals who are willing to attest to that same behavior, I am unable, by law, to do anything about it. I am conducting an investigation into Mr. [redacted]’s behavior, but I need your help. If you are willing, I am asking of you the following:

Will the student who wrote the evaluation that began with, “I know most of the people who will read this are men, but I also invite you to think about what it’s like to be a woman in his orchestra.” please contact me? These details are very important to my investigation
If I have spoken to you at a prior time, and you were hesitant to provide specific details that fall under Title IX, please consider meeting with me again
If you have experienced (or observed) behavior on Mr. [redacted]’s behalf that can be considered sexual harassment, please contact me if you are willing to provide details
Please be aware that retaliation in any form toward a person who provides this information to me in the course of my investigation is PROHIBITED by law and can be punishable to an even greater degree than the offense itself.

Please also know that your professors have your back! Several of them have come in the past two weeks to share similar information with me.

I am filing a formal complaint, so you won’t have to. This is what will result in the investigation that is being conducted. I am able to meet with students by appointment in my office (216), virtually on Zoom, or over at CIA (in room 106), if you would prefer that no one see you come to my office at CIM.

Please know that the information you provide will not be shared with other employees at CIM, other than those responsible for facilitating the Title IX Hearing, and that your cooperation will not result in any negative academic consequences to you.

Please remember that there is strength in numbers, so the more of you that come forward, the stronger this case can be, and we can move back toward making CIM a safe place that offers you the space and supportive environment that fosters your growth as the phenomenal musicians that you are.

Thank you,

Vivian R. Scott
Director, Title IX Compliance/Title IX Coordinator
Cleveland Institute of Music

From: Sol Rizzato <>
Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2023 4:43:40 PM
To: All Students <>
Subject: [All Students] Student Reports

Dear Colleagues,

As the Graduate Student Ambassador, it is part of my duty to serve as a liaison to our school’s administration and to assure each and every one of your voices is heard. To follow up on Vivian Scott’s (our Title IX coordinator) email, I would echo her words exactly, “there is strength in numbers, so the more of you that come forward, the stronger this case can be, and we can move back toward making CIM a safe place that offers you the space and supportive environment that fosters your growth as the phenomenal musicians that you are.”

I understand at the same time that making reports against a faculty/staff member or administrator can be an extremely scary and emotionally taxing process that can be far outside of our comfort zones. However, I assure you (also echoed in Vivian’s email), that there are legal protections against retaliation, and this reporting system exists for a reason. There is no report or case that is “too small,” “not a big deal,” or that “didn’t impact me too much.” If something makes you uncomfortable, report it. If you see inappropriate behavior towards someone else, report it. If you hear about inappropriate behavior, report it.

This is also valid for situations outside of the recent email– if ANY faculty/staff member or administrator makes you uncomfortable, no matter what their title is or place on the institutional hierarchy ladder, there is strength in numbers for outward, spoken and written reports from the student body. Job titles are never an excuse for a person to behave in ways inconsistent with the creation of a safe learning environment and our institutional learning goals.

I am also here to assist you if you need someone to help connect you to the proper administrator for your needs, if you need help drafting up/wording an email, or just someone to talk to. We all deserve a safe learning environment, first and foremost.

Once again, there is strength in numbers, and we as a student body, coming together, can make change.

-Sol Rizzato

Sol M. Rizzato, BMus., BMA, CAGO
Master’s Student and Graduate Student Ambassador:
The Cleveland Institute of Music


  • Nosema says:

    Suspected him and could indeed double check that he is who he is very easily on website.
    He is indeed a quare fellow….

    • Guest says:

      The ‘Mr’ isn’t redacted in multiple instances, so it’s pretty safe to say it’s a man

  • JB says:

    Typical they/tehm/it hysterically demanding a full-scale inquiry into some inappropriate comments. A worrying sign of the times and another reason classical music is on its last legs.

    • Nate says:

      You’re one of my favorite frequent commenters on this site because it’s so clear that you never give a single second of thought to what you write or to the deep bitterness you clearly hold that the world has passed you by. You’re so blinded by that bitterness that you skipped right over the part where the anonymous writer explicitly identifies herself as a woman. You further go on to dehumanize gender-nonconforming people as “it,” employing the exact same terminology the Nazis did for the Jews. You attempt to delegitimize the evaluation as a “hysterical demand for an inquiry” even though there is no such demand, nor is the language hysterical in the slightest.

      It’s a free country, and you are completely free to continue manufacturing your own outrage, but it doesn’t seem like a healthy or productive way to spend your remaining years. I suggest golf, instead.

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh good grief. Save your pious drivel for someone else. The hyperbole of comparing this to the Nazis and Jews is deplorable. Get a grip. Comments like yours are exactly why society has rejected woke-ism.

  • perturbo says:

    Note that “CIA” in the first message is Cleveland Institute of Art. No spy agency is on campus.

    • Guest says:

      CIA and CIM share a Title IX Administrator.

    • Sisko24 says:

      “No spy agency is on campus.” So say YOU. I’m old enough to remember when the CIA-Central Intelligence Agency DID have undercover operatives on US college campuses. And they weren’t all up to noble things…..

  • samach says:

    There are only so many men in the small conducting faculty, and while “renowned” is pushing it a bit, one name is certainly more “known” than the others, so I gather it must be him. Yuck.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    American students should be ashamed of their degrees. Who would want to hire them?

    • Steve Schwartz says:

      Why should they be ashamed? You think this crap doesn’t happen in Europe?

    • David D says:

      Typical that you’re hiding under a pseudonym when making such a stereotypical generalisation .

    • astoriacub says:

      Why should they be ashamed of having a degree from the CIM? Cleveland Institute is one of the very best conservatories in the US, it is very difficult to be accepted into the program.

    • Nate says:

      I’m not ashamed of any of them and I’m not at all sure why you think I should be.

  • Simon Funnell says:

    I love the way you’ve written “him/her” in your introduction to carefully disguise the gender, but the letter from the institute states the conductor is a “Mr” on several occasions. Your gender neutrality seems a bit pointless…

  • Anonymous says:

    This needs to be investigated, full stop.

    But this also seems like an exceptionally poor way to handle the complaint. Exposing something written by a student on a course evaluation that was never intended for public consumption, and then using that without their consent as bait for the entire student body to send their complaints about a professor that is highly visible seems ridiculous. Is there no better process for handling this? If I were a student at CIM, this would be a huge breach of trust.

    I think that Sol Rizzato and the CIM administration needs investigation here as well. There seems to be a pretty clear agenda from he/him/his/they/them/theirs email.

    It’s time to start ensuring that the outspoken folks with extreme agendas are also acting in good faith.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      People with extrem agendas are never action in good faith, only in theis “faith”.

    • Couperin says:

      Sol definitely trans and has an agenda

    • steveo48 says:

      You are absolutely right! Transforming a student’s evaluation into a public cattle call for all and sundry to rush forth with their denunciations has a distinctly Maoist/Stalinist aura.

    • David D says:

      How do you know that the student didn’t give their consent for the CIM to investigate the behaviour from this professor? I live in and am from the UK, so don’t kmow about the procedures in American places of education, but I should imagine that the administration had a heart to heart with the student and asked him or her if they wanted to seek other victim’s of the professor’s/conductor’s behaviour?

    • David D says:

      I’m sorry, you’re right, this invitation for all students to write in any complaints was most likely done without the original student’s consent, as the Title IX administrator asked the student herself or himself to write in…

  • Couperin says:

    Wow that’s a lot of pronouns!

    • Amy says:

      coup, you presumably use a fistful of pronouns yourself, whether you prefer “she/her/hers” or “he/him/his.” We all use an assortment in their traditional, grammatical way, without drama. (you/yours we/ours, thou/thine…)

      This is simply a way of indicating that any of the following pronouns are fine with the letter writer.
      It will all be okay.

  • Enquiring Mind says:

    One student makes an anonymous comment that could very likely say more about themselves than anyone else and the witch hunt begins.

    • Robert Holmén says:

      The just “one student” argument diminishes after the administrator concedes similar complaints have already been heard previously.

    • No comment says:

      The student may have been asked by the witch hunter to write the course evaluation, and even to enroll in the course for that sole reason. Such scenario was implemented too many times to be credible.

    • David D says:

      That is possible, I suppose.

  • Guest says:

    A few worrying questions.
    Are these emails authorized to be circulated outside the Cleveland Institute of Music?
    Is it normal for Title IX administrators to read all student course evaluations (which should be anonymous) for evidence of violations, and then actively call for further evidence?
    Given that a quick search shows that the CIM lists only 3 names as conducting faculty, and that only one is both male and ‘renowned’, is not this report tantamount to publishing the name?

  • Daniel says:

    So much for presumption of innocence.This is right out of Tar. And I am all too familiar with these ‘evaluations’ which offer no protection whatsoever against this sort of hysteria.

  • Anonymous617 says:

    This conductor is only “renowned” for his disgusting actions and never should’ve been permitted to work with students after getting #MeToo-ed in Oregon.

    Curious if Ms. Anne Midgette will accept the honorary degree next month.

    • Anonymous Guest says:

      He creates a toxic work environment, but getting “#MeToo-ed” is not what happened in Oregon. Plenty of other behavior not becoming of his position, though.

    • The View from America says:

      Yes, his interpretations are hidebound and he seems to know only one dynamic. One suspects that his flirtation techniques are equally clumsy …

    • Larry W says:

      The question concerning Anne Midgette has now been answered. She will not accept the honorary degree.

  • Geige says:

    The active solicitation of complaints, the publicizing of a confidential student evaluation, and the total lack of neutrality and overt rush to judgment all set up the alleged offender for a slam-dunk win in court against CIM should he choose to sue them, either for unfair dismissal or other penalties, should that case arise, or simply for defamation. This is singularly ill-advised on the part of the Title IX administrator. I appreciate that after the severe reputational harm CIM experienced from the Preucil debacle they wish to be aggressive in policing harassment claims, but the Title IX coordinator has an obligation to follow the rules and be fair to the interests of all parties. This is disgraceful.

    • David D says:

      You’re right, except that they haven’t publicised the student’s evaluation and (rightly) certainly not their name; the title IX administrator only states that one of them student’s evaluations contains a complaint against a member of the faculty.

    • astoriacub says:

      reading is fundamental…

    • MK says:

      @Geige, You seem to suffer from a sever lack of a law degree.

      • Geige says:

        MK, if you have a substantive disagreement with what I said, please say on. Education Department guidelines state the following:

        “The Title IX regulations, at 34 C.F.R. § 106.71(a), state the general rule that a recipient must keep confidential the identity of any person who has reported sexual harassment, or who has been reported to be a perpetrator of sexual harassment”

        There are exceptions, the broadest of which is when it is necessary to disclose the respondents identity in order to conduct the investigation. I suppose that CIM could claim that it was necessary to cast a wide net for information, but I think that’s a pretty thin argument. A more discreet method must have been available then emailing hundreds of students.

        It seems to me that this conductor will be able to argue that his right to due process and confidentiality was violated without good cause. I am not saying he doesn’t deserve the sanctions that are coming his way, and neither am I arguing with the veracity of the allegations. I just think this is a clumsy way to go about investigating them

  • Zimzer Soyjack says:

    lol pronouns. The HeShe crowd always has the most retarded ideas. A heuristic so accurate it might as well be a natural law.

  • roger says:

    Who cares how great a conductor you are if you’re a lousy human being?

    • Chicagorat says:

      Precisely. A simple and profound point, usually lost on the hard core fans of a certain conductor I know. (The equivalent of Trump’s hard core fans in classical music).

  • Desk jockey says:

    We know who this is, everyone knows who this is. Let them fry.

  • CSOA Insider says:

    The classical music industry has been getting a pass from the mainstream media because of its niche nature.

    Hostile workplaces, sexual harassment and misogyny. Teachers sexually preying on students. Teachers abusing students emotionally and otherwise. World renowned music directors with mistresses at the office, staffed and paid by their institutions. World renowned music directors routinely making homophobic, trans phobic, racist or otherwise objectively offensive comments while at the workplace and outside. HR departments, boards complacent (not) overseeing and tacitly endorsing all of this. World famous conductors openly supporting war criminals. World famous singers allegedly involved with sex traffickers but still singing in major opera venues. We could go on and on.

    The mainstream media is ignoring this disconcerting state of affairs because classical music is, for the most part, not on the radar of our broad societies. The specialized classical music media, on the other hand, is mired in conflicts of interest and often fighting for its own survival, therefore deferential and servile, fully aware that picking a fight with powerful industry players is a sure path to be marginalized or pushed out of a job.

    The industry should reflect on all of this and understand it is time to act. We should all do some soul searching and see the need to clean house, thoroughly.

    • Anon says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Most classical music journalism is PR. Big scandals get the occasional airing on here and in VAN but the mainstream media avoid them like the plague.

    • steve says:

      and have you even reported any of this to the “mainstream media”? i’m guessing not because you (and your little posse) are just on some deranged witch hunt, posting highly unsubstantiated claims on this anonymous forum that no serious journalist would ever even consider. you lot are probably just some disgruntled former employees who just can’t seem to cut it in this industry…LOL

    • Old Man in the Midwest says:

      Did you ever read “Mozart in the Jungle”? That came out about 20 years back and was made into an Amazon series.

      The word has been out for years. It’s just that the media doesn’t care to cover Classical music.

      And why should they when we can read about Kanye and Kim?

  • Ernest says:

    What’s with all the pronouns? Wouldn’t “gender neutral” be a better sign off?

  • Musician says:

    For those saying it shouldn’t be public… it should. CIM admin is notorious for not doing shit for their students and for covering up sexual harassment complaints. This needs to be public because otherwise it may very well be another case successfully covered up by the school.

    For those saying there’s an agenda or “it’s only one student”… no it’s not. If you haven’t been in the CIM building and speaking to these students, don’t comment and don’t assume.

    I hope they actually do a full investigation and that he is out before the fall

    • Woman musician says:

      I only met the man once (I’m a woman) and given my experience, I totally believe the student and am sure that more will come forward.

  • Evan Tucker says:

    On the one hand, I doubt “…… ……” is a chronic abuser like Dutoit. On the other hand, there’s a reason all this is happening. What lots of commenters here don’t realize is that and the sooner the majority of classical music people realize that these things matter and we have to curb our behavior as a profession, the sooner all these heads they love will stop rolling. However you feel about it, you can’t stop it. The world has changed, we have to move on or die out even more than we already have.

    And what the hell did a dictator type like “…… ……” expect by going to an American conservatory in 2023? This isn’t the era of Klemperer when you’re appreciated for saying tactless things, and it obviously kept women out of positions they deserved. There are regions all around the world where an old school maestro is still appreciated. Let him go there. Those like me who admire him can admire his musicmaking from afar by youtube streams and recordings.

  • Nathaniel Rosen says:

    Anonymous alleged perpetrator, un-named offense——definitely sounds like anti-Soviet behavior. He must be interrogated and punished.

  • Mirror says:

    News flash:

    If you are choosing to focus on (and attack) Sol’s identity, you are part of the problem.

    If you think Vivian Scott’s email was an amateur-move but unable to call yourself a Title IX expert, you need to check yourself.

    Based on the extreme measures these individuals had to take, this conductor sounds toxic at the very least. Where is your empathy for the students?

    Shame on you all.

  • Musician says:

    For those saying it shouldn’t be public… it should. CIM admin is notorious for not doing anything for their students and for covering up sexual harassment complaints. This needs to be public because otherwise it may very well be another case successfully covered up by the school.

    For those saying there’s an agenda or “it’s only one student”… no it’s not. If you haven’t been in the CIM building and speaking to these students, don’t comment and don’t assume.

    I hope they actually do a full investigation and that he is out before the fall

  • David D says:

    What an alarming thing to happen, if it turns out to be true. If and when the conductor turns out to be guilty from the investigations, I hope his name will then be published.

  • cim says:

    the students are just complaining because they probably can’t get a career out of cim. should probably seek another career. no good violins after preucil’s got fired with his talented students. oh some of smirnoff students were good too

  • David D says:

    I have just looked at and read a news article about the appointment of a “world-renowned” conductor at the Cleveland Institute almost two years ago. Don’t think it takes rocket science that it’s probably the same person… (one never knows though). I think he sounded rather smarmy from the way he talked, actually. Despite being internationally “renowned” I had not myself previously heard of him.

  • Rodrigo says:

    This guy again. I will second what someone said earlier about his abominable professional practices in Oregon. He went after a respected, tenured female Principal player in that orch & made sure she ended up with no job & no pension after 25 yrs with the orch. His career should have ended right there. But no, ignorant Oregon, eager to please their fancy foreign “Maestro” let him continue.

    A few years later he was hired as MD of a major Spanish orch & he tried to do exactly the same thing – “removing” not one, but several tenured players he didn’t care for. The Spaniards would have none of it or of him. It was unacceptable, especially from a mediocre conductor who clearly thought too highly of himself. It was handled discretely – he was nearing the end of I think a 2 yr. contract. As I recall the orch let him finish the contract but filled it with guest conductors. He was immediately & I mean immediately replaced as music director the minute his contract was up. The orch had a previous MD fill in for a year or so.

    So this guy has a big history. He is a mediocre conductor by all reports & he has a sense of entitlement which hearkens back to the days when women were not even allowed to play in orchestras. Somehow his foreign veneer has convinced Americans that he’s a big deal. The Emperor has no clothes.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re spot on.

    • Jon says:

      Your condemn him is because he fired a musician? That’s the best you can come up with?
      News flash: that’s what bosses do.
      The fact that this musician was denied her pension has nothing to do with him.

      • Rodrigo says:

        Jon, if every conductor were allowed to do this at will, playing in an orch would become a hobby instead of a profession.

        No professional musician can afford to stake a lifetime of training & their entire livelihood on the chance that a conductor might disagree with their playing, not like the color of their hair, or feel uncomfortable with women in the orchestra.

        There are old school conductors who are still doubtful of women principal players simply because they are women. And yes, these guys can be very convincing at finding musical reasons to try to justify that bias. Our conductor under scrutiny here did exactly that in Oregon from what I can see.

        Conductors don’t get to play God. Standing on a podium shouldn’t entitle one musician to destroy another musician’s livelihood. Firing someone for musical reasons is far too subjective a decision for any conductor to wield as a power. It’s exactly why we have unions & orchestra committees & labor laws. It’s why orch players do trials, have probationary periods & earn tenure.

        Playing in an orch is a profession, full stop. It’s not a hobby where tenured players’ jobs constantly stand in scrutiny by every Tom, Dick or Mary who happens to be conducting them.

        Conversely, Music Directors do stand in scrutiny. They have limited contracts for which they are paid far more than the musicians.

        There are MD’s like our guy here, who think – as he did in Spain – that during his well paid 2 year temporary hiatus with an orch he had the right to terminate the careers of veteran players who were contracted for life. It doesn’t work that way. It cannot if orchestra playing is to survive as a profession.

        Karma’s a bitch, “Maestro”.

    • Anonymous says:

      So, interesting comment. Genuinely curious, as I can’t speak to this situation, but:

      Say you’re hired as a music director and you need to improve the quality of the orchestra. You have a weak principal that is holding back the section or actively causing damage. What do you do?

      The problem is that often the “tenured players he didn’t care for” may have legitimate issues with their playing or performance that need to be addressed. Was this not the case?

      A great musician is typically not going to fire other great musicians for no reason, even if there is a personality clash. Of course, as we all know, there’s a lot of subjectivity in music. But I thought I’d put this here as food for thought.

      • Rodrigo says:

        The problem here is that the conductors inclined to do this are seldom great musicians. That is the root of the problem. They are deflecting their own inabilities by blaming individual players.

        A great Music Director knows how to work with the orch he/she had been entrusted with. If there are truly glaring weaknesses, a good music director knows how to work around them. There are a million options besides outright firing someone. That’s like cutting off an arm because your finger hurts. You program around the weakness, rotate players, give time off, whatever, above all, negotiate!

        A good music director should be much more than just a conductor. If you don’t get that part, it’s too much to explain here.

        One thing is for sure: I’ve watched conductors like this one for years. They don’t change. Musicians have long memories & not just about their own orch. We watch every potential guest conductor who might come before us & threaten our own job. This guy is on our radar.

        What I’ve seen is that almost without exception, whatever these conductors do to players in the name of “improving” an orch backfires on their own career eventually.

        • Orchestra Snob says:

          I would really love to know how to program around having a weak principal flute.

          • astoriacub says:

            I’m sorry, a weak principal flute? Like who? Flute seats in a professional orchestra are among the most competitive seats to win because the talent pool is enormous.

          • Rodrigo says:

            Easy. Don’t program Daphnis or Apres Midi or anything which would call attention to that solo player. Do Mozart or Haydn symphs with no flutes. Program works for strings alone. Anything thickly orchestrated without a lot of exposed, independent wind voices, Wagner for example, would work. The possibilities are endless.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m glad I don’t play in your orchestra. It sounds like you’re saying if you win an audition, you have tenure for life and then can slack at your hearts content. What a dream.

            Unlike real life, where there are annual reviews, compensation adjustments based on performance, etc.

  • Arthur Smith says:

    Shame on you for publishing the names of the people who wrote these emails. These people are just trying to do their jobs and now they have to deal with blind harassment.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      What rubbish. They are pursuing a man who may be innocent. They cannot do that here behind a cloak of anonymity.

      • Student says:

        Are you dense? That’s the point of an INVESTIGATION, which would have been somewhat confidential had you not aired these emails. You leave his name out of your “article” but opt to share the email of a student?? Makes sense. He is certainly NOT innocent… but hopefully that will come out with time. Don’t pretend you have any idea what’s going on at this institution. I refuse to make excuses for a “teacher” who harms my dear friends and colleagues.

    • Albondiga de la Perro says:

      Brilliant satire Mr. Smith. Keep it up!

  • Meyers Leonard says:

    how does this affect Lebron’s legacy

  • Cleve says:

    this Sol person should stick to fixing organs! has anyone heard him play? Atrocious! No wonder he’s on a witch hunt using many pronouns!

    • Anonymous says:

      Shame on you. He is a phenomenal musician, person, and organ technician. I have heard him in concert several times.

  • Larry W says:

    Looks like a lot of She/He/It.