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Two high-profile men in Miami classical scene accused of predatory sexual behavior

Wed Aug 01, 2018 at 3:44 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Benard Uzan resigned his FGO post following reports of sexual harassment.

Bernard Uzan resigned his FGO post following reports of sexual harassment.

The @MeToo Movement has come to Miami’s classical music scene.

A recent Washington Post article on predatory sexual behavior by powerful men against young musicians in the classical music business has resulted in a resignation and suspension by two with a high profile on the local arts scene. These latest developments follow the widely reported allegations against James Levine and Charles Dutoit last year, which effectively ended both veteran conductors’ careers.

Opera director Bernard Uzan, who has been a fixture at Florida Grand Opera for decades, resigned his position as director of FGO’s Studio Artist Program on Monday. Diana Soviero, Uzan’s wife and co-director of the FGO young artist program, also resigned.

In the July 26 article by Post classical music critic Anne Midgette and Peggy McGlone, four singers said that Uzan had sexually harassed or intimidated them. (None of the incidents in the article took place in Florida.)

On Wednesday, Uzan, who denied the charges in the Post, released a statement from his Uzan International Artists agency. The letter offered a self-justifying apologia of sorts for past behavior as well announcing that the 73-year-old director was retiring, effective immediately, from all opera work, as stage director as well as artist manager.

“I will soon be 74 years old and it is time to focus on other interests. I had a long life full of obstacles and tragedies. The past few years I had to deal with many health problems and it is imperative that I take care of it. My life has also been full of wonderful moments and experiences of which I am very grateful.

“I come from a very different culture, I am of the sixties generation, which is not an excuse, but simply a fact, and I have made my mistakes throughout my life. If I have offended any of you, I deeply apologize. The world has changed tremendously and continues to change every day at a fast speed.  While I still deny the recent allegations, I am realizing that it is very difficult, practically impossible, for me to adapt to the new rules of behavior and human relations. I will now concentrate and consecrate my life to my other passion, writing.”

Uzan concluded his statement by saying that his daughter Vanessa Uzan, managing director of Uzan International Artists, will take over all responsibilities at the agency.

____________

In the same article, violinist William Preucil, the highly regarded concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra for the past 23 years, was accused of sexually harassing two female members of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach when he was appearing as a guest artist.

In one case, Preucil’s behavior crossed the line to sexual assault, according to Zenebia Bowers in the Post article. The violinist, then 26, says that Preucil attacked her in a hotel room in 1996 following a music lesson.

On Sunday, the Cleveland Orchestra suspended Preucil “until further notice” and opened an investigation into the Post allegations.

The Cleveland Orchestra performs two weeks of concerts next season as a regular ensemble of the Arsht Center.

 

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