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Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conductor quits over abuse claims

Charles Dutoit conducts the Royal Philharmonic
Charles Dutoit conducts the Royal Philharmonic in September. He denies the allegations against him. Photograph: Robert Ghement/EPA

Charles Dutoit, the principal conductor and artistic director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, has left his roles with immediate effect amid allegations of sexual assault.

The 81-year-old, who denies the claims, had been due to step down at the end of his contract in October 2019, but the RPO decided to bring forward his resignation at an emergency board meeting last Friday.

In December last year, the Swiss-born conductor was accused by six women of forcing himself on them between 1985 and 2010. The self-governing orchestra announced on Wednesday that Dutoit would leave with immediate effect, describing his position as “untenable.”

The world-renowned conductor, who had been due to receive the new title of honorary conductor for life at the RPO, has already been sacked from other positions at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Sydney Symphony Orchestra after the allegations.

In a statement, the RPO said: “The protracted uncertainty and media reporting makes Mr Dutoit’s position with the orchestra untenable.

“Following an emergency board meeting and further dialogue with Charles Dutoit, the RPO and Charles Dutoit have together decided to bring forward his resignation from his role as artistic director and principal conductor. Charles Dutoit had already announced in June 2017 that he would stand down in October 2019; this will now take place with immediate effect.

“The RPO is committed to the highest standards of ethical behaviour and takes very seriously its responsibility to maintain a safe working environment for all its artists, musicians and staff,” the statement said.

The Associated Press has obtained accounts from three opera singers and a musician alleging that Dutoit attacked them on the sidelines of rehearsals and performances with orchestras in five cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Saratoga Springs, New York state.

They alleged the incidents occurred between 1985 and 2010 in a variety of places, including a moving car, Dutoit’s dressing room, a hotel lift and his suite at the Four Seasons hotel in Chicago.

Dutoit said the allegations have “absolutely no basis in truth”.

This article titled "Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conductor quits over abuse claims" was written by Patrick Greenfield and agency, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 10 January 2018 07.26pm

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