Nation & World

Cleveland Orchestra suspends longtime concertmaster

Son of renowned I.C. string players accused of sex misconduct

William Preucil, son of renowned string players William and Doris Preucil of Iowa City, has been concertmaster for the Cleveland Orchestra since April 1995. He began playing violin at age 5, and was one of his mother’s first students to learn by the Suzuki method for which the Preucil School of Music has become known. (Supplied photo)
William Preucil, son of renowned string players William and Doris Preucil of Iowa City, has been concertmaster for the Cleveland Orchestra since April 1995. He began playing violin at age 5, and was one of his mother’s first students to learn by the Suzuki method for which the Preucil School of Music has become known. (Supplied photo)

The Cleveland Orchestra has suspended violinist William Preucil, its concertmaster of 23 years and son of renowned string players William and Doris Preucil of Iowa City, “until further notice” while opening an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment leveled at him in a recent article in The Washington Post.

“The Cleveland Orchestra was not aware of the allegations reported by The Washington Post about William Preucil in their July 26, 2018 article,” read the statement from André Gremillet, the orchestra’s executive director, released to the media Friday afternoon. “We take this matter very seriously and will promptly conduct an independent investigation. Mr. Preucil has been suspended until further notice.”

In the article, violinist Zeneba Bowers said that in 1998, Preucil tried to assault her in his hotel room after a lesson when she was a fellow at the New World Symphony, the country’s leading training orchestra for young professionals.

The story also mentioned an article that ran in 2007 in the publication Cleveland Scene, in which it was alleged Preucil made an unwanted advance to a student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he was a teacher. Preucil resigned Saturday from the institute after the Post article appeared, the Cleveland Scene reported.

At the time, Preucil responded to the Cleveland Scene reporter, Rebecca Meiser, in an email that “the issue was fully reviewed by the institution and was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.”

Speaking to The Post last week, Gremillet, who has been at the Cleveland Orchestra for 2.5 years, said that this was his first time hearing these allegations.

“There was no blind eye turned,” he said. “No allegations were made; no one came forward to anyone in management. I need to know about it to do something about it.”

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Gremillet also said that he hoped the fact that the orchestra responded so quickly shows how seriously it takes this matter.

There have been other consequences. The Grand Teton Music Festival, where Preucil was one of four listed concertmasters this summer, has uninvited him.

“Upon reading the recently published accusations against Mr. Preucil, the Grand Teton Music Festival acted swiftly and decisively yesterday to rescind his invitation to participate in this year’s festival,” said Andrew Palmer Todd, the festival’s president and chief executive, in a statement. “This sort of behavior has no place in our organization.” A scheduled recital at the University of Texas at Austin in October was also canceled.

Preucil began playing violin at age 5, and was one of his mother’s first students to learn by the Suzuki method for which the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City has become known.

The Cleveland Orchestra performed at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City on Jan. 20, 2017.

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