Two More Violinists Go Public With Accusations of Sexual Misconduct Against Cleveland Orchestra Concertmaster William Preucil

The 10/7/2018 edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer published an article by Zachary Lewis that reports on two new allegations of sexual misconduct from former students of Cleveland Orchestra concertmaster William Preucil.

The first instance is from 2003 at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) where Preucil maintained a violin studio. One of his students, Raffaela Kalmar, alleges Preucil forced himself into a position where he could look up her skirt.

At the start of a private lesson in Preucil’s CIM studio in late May or early June 2003, Kalmar said, she looked down after unpacking her instrument and found Preucil lying face-up on the ground with his head between her legs.

“He was on the floor, looking up my skirt,” said Kalmar, now a member of the Pacific Northwest Ballet orchestra in Seattle. “He said, ‘I just want to see what’s up there.’ “

The second incident happened in 2005 where Emilia Mettenbrink, who was a student at New World Symphony (NWS), alleges Preucil forced himself on her during a lesson.

…Preucil, [Mettenbrink] said, was at New World giving master classes and private lessons.

Her one scheduled lesson with Preucil went forward without incident, she said. Then, citing lack of space at the school, Preucil offered her a second lesson, in his hotel room. Nothing about the offer struck her as risky, she said. On the contrary, she thought she was lucky.

A second lesson “was unheard of,” Mettenbrink said. “There was no doubt in my mind this was an excellent opportunity for me to gain more knowledge.”

For a time, it was. When she went to leave, however, Preucil asked about some jewelry she was wearing, asked her to sit down, and then grabbed her and “stuck his tongue down my throat,” Mettenbrink said.

Mettenbrink said she broke free of Preucil’s grasp, retrieved her violin, and bolted into an elevator. “I remember there were mirrors in the elevator,” she said. “I couldn’t look at myself.”

The NWS raises ancillary concerns related to how Mettenbrink claims the organization handled the situation after notifying them about the incident.

…[Mittenbrink] chose to confide in a friendly fellow orchestra member, who urged her to report the incident to management.

She did, she said. Like her, though, the symphony’s personnel manager was unsure how to proceed, Mettenbrink said.

According to Mettenbrink, the only official response she received at the time was an offer by the orchestra a few days later to put her in touch with Preucil by phone, which she declined. “I just didn’t want to talk to him,” she said.

The New World Symphony did not return a request for comment or documentation of any statement Mettenbrink may have made to the organization.

Preucil is currently on leave from the Cleveland Orchestra pending an investigation into allegations. He has resigned his position at CIM.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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