Classical musicians reveal a profession rife with harassment

Over a six-month period starting last November, The Washington Post spoke to more than 50 musicians who say they were victims of sexual harassment. These artists, many of whom shared their stories for the first time, described experiences ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault, at every level from local teachers to international superstars. Opera singers spoke of attempted assaults in dressing rooms or in the wings during performances. Students described teachers inappropriately touching their bodies during lessons.

Young artists in conservatories and training programs such as the New World Symphony are especially vulnerable, interviews showed. Individual teachers have enormous power over their students’ future careers: A good word can open doors, a bad one shut them forever. High-profile instructors like Preucil — whose alleged interaction with Bowers in Miami has not been previously reported — attract donors and new talent, and institutions might be reluctant to discipline them.

Deborah Borda, the president and chief executive of the New York Philharmonic and the highest-ranking female administrator in classical music, says she was harassed early in her career, an incident she says is still both vivid and painful to recall. “Harassment has been going on for centuries,” she says. “It will take us time to achieve true equality. That’s the story I see happening right now.”

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