Philharmonic Opens Inquiry After Misconduct Allegations Are Revived

Philharmonic Opens Inquiry After Misconduct Allegations Are Revived

The New York Philharmonic, which has been facing an uproar since a recent magazine article detailed allegations of misconduct against two players it tried and failed to fire in 2018, said on Thursday that it was commissioning an outside investigation into its culture.

Gary Ginstling, the Philharmonic’s president and chief executive, said in a letter to musicians, staff members and board members that the organization had hired an outside lawyer, Katya Jestin, a managing partner of the law firm Jenner & Block, to “launch an independent investigation into the culture of the New York Philharmonic in recent years.”

“I am empowering Katya to look at everything and to leave no stone unturned, including any new allegations as they are reported,” Mr. Ginstling wrote.

The decision came after a report last week in New York magazine detailed accusations of misconduct made in 2010 against the players, the associate principal trumpet, Matthew Muckey, and the principal oboist, Liang Wang.

In the article Cara Kizer, a former Philharmonic horn player, came forward for the first time to publicly discuss an encounter that she said occurred while she was on tour with the Philharmonic in Vail, Colo., in 2010. She told the Vail Police Department at the time that she had been sexually assaulted after spending the evening with the two players and was given a drink she came to believe was drugged, according to police records.

No charges were filed against the men and both have denied wrongdoing.

In 2018 the Philharmonic, under new leadership, commissioned an investigation and moved to dismiss Mr. Muckey and Mr. Wang. But the players’ union, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, challenged their dismissals, and an independent arbitrator forced the orchestra to reinstate them in 2020.

The New York magazine article upset the Philharmonic’s players, who called on management to do more to provide a safe workplace.

Calling the details of the article “horrifying to me personally,” Mr. Ginstling said in his letter on Thursday that he was “deeply concerned about not only the specifics but broader issues of institutional culture.” He added that Mr. Muckey and Mr. Wang were “not being assigned to any Philharmonic activity as we work through this process.”

“A decision about their future with the New York Philharmonic will be made in due course,” he said.

Alan S. Lewis, a lawyer representing Mr. Wang, accused the Philharmonic of “yielding to the modern equivalent of a lynch mob” and “not affording him the dignity and fairness he deserves.”

He said in a statement that when the Philharmonic investigated the matter in 2018 it “did not accuse Liang Wang of any misconduct arising from it” and that the “only person accused of misconduct in connection with that matter” was Mr. Muckey.

A lawyer for Mr. Muckey, Steven J. Hyman, said in a statement that “the allegations against our client have been investigated over and over and over again” and that “in each instance our client was cleared of any wrongdoing.”

“What the Philharmonic is doing undermines our system of justice,” he said, adding that it was important to respect due process. He did not address Mr. Lewis’s statement.

New York magazine reported that Ms. Kizer had a nondisclosure agreement with the Philharmonic that prevented her from speaking about aspects of the case. She issued a statement on Thursday that suggested she was constrained in what she could say.

“While it’s good to see organizations taking action in response to the article,” she said, “I must note I still cannot comment on my story as it relates to this particular organization’s culture.”

Ms. Kizer had not been granted tenure with the orchestra when she reported the encounter to the Vail police; she wound up leaving the orchestra and has not spoken publicly about the employment process. The magazine reported that Amanda Stewart, a trombonist in the Philharmonic who supported Ms. Kizer, was not granted tenure the following year and left the orchestra.

Mr. Ginstling said in his letter that the Philharmonic was preparing “to seek changes to its audition and tenure review policies and procedures to provide more transparency, oversight and equity to the process.”

The Philharmonic’s leaders have faced intense internal pressure in recent days to take action. The orchestra committee, which represents players, said in a statement on Monday that it was “the overwhelming sentiment from the orchestra that we believe Cara.” The committee added that the orchestra has a culture of “not taking musician complaints seriously so musicians often do not feel safe in raising accusations of sexual harassment and assault.”

The musicians’ union, which helped Mr. Muckey and Mr. Wang retain their jobs, has struck a different tone since the publication of the article, praising the Philharmonic’s decision to sideline the musicians. On Thursday, Sara Cutler, the new president and executive director of Local 802, said the union supported the new inquiry.

Mr. Ginstling pledged to share the recommendations made by the inquiry with the public.

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