Orchestra speaks out

The chair of the board of directors for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra is expressing his sympathy to those who have spoken up about alleged psychological harassment and intimidation by its former artistic director.

Several musicians have told Montreal media outlets La Presse and Le Devoir that Charles Dutoit would repeatedly insult, humiliate and verbally lash out at musicians when he was the orchestra's artistic director from 1977 to 2002.

Lucien Bouchard, who in addition to his role with the orchestra is also a former premier of Quebec, says in a statement that the testimonies will strengthen the orchestra's determination to provide a harmonious working environment.

Bouchard pointed out that the orchestra already launched its own independent investigation into sexual harassment in the workplace in December, the day after it received a complaint of that nature against Dutoit.

Dutoit is facing allegations of sexual assault by several women who told The Associated Press that Dutoit assaulted them in the United States, France and Canada between 1985 and 2010.

The 81-year-old Grammy-winning conductor has emphatically denied the accusations of sexual misconduct. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations of psychological harassment.

Bouchard said the current administration has worked hard to create and maintain a "climate of respect" in the workplace and will continue to do so.

"We are very compassionate and moved by the suffering expressed in these recently published musicians' testimonies, namely today in LaPresse+ and Le Devoir," read the statement published late Saturday.

"They will serve to strengthen the (orchestra's) determination to ensure that the dignity and fundamental rights of its musicians and employees are respected at all times."

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