Music News & Reviews

Sexual assault allegations prompt new conductor for Mondavi concert

The Royal Philharmonic will still tour the United States – but without conductor Charles Dutoit.
The Royal Philharmonic will still tour the United States – but without conductor Charles Dutoit.

Ripple effects following allegations of sexual assault against world-renowned conductor Charles Dutoit will reach Sacramento area concertgoers in January.

Swiss conductor Thierry Fischer will substitute for Dutoit when the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra plays UC Davis’ Mondavi Center on Jan. 27.

“We are very grateful to Maestro Thierry Fischer who will be replacing Charles Dutoit to conduct this concert,” the orchestra posted on its website.

Fischer will be making his Mondavi debut.

“The Royal Philharmonic is one of our favorite visiting orchestras, one of the very best anywhere,” said Don Roth, Mondavi’s executive director. “The opportunity to hear them with a rising star like Thierry Fischer should make for a very special evening.”

After media reports of Dutoit’s alleged misconduct, the Royal Philharmonic acted swiftly, releasing him from his commitments on Dec. 22. The previous day, the Associated Press reported allegations against him by three opera singers and a classical musician who said he sexually assaulted them in incidents between 1985 and 2010.

“As a leading international ensemble, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is committed to the highest standards of ethical behavior, which it expects from everyone that works with the RPO,” said the organization in an official statement. “The orchestra takes very seriously its responsibility to maintain a safe working environment for all its artists, musicians and staff.”

Dutoit, 81, also lost assignments with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony, as well as major orchestras in Sydney, Boston, Cleveland and Chicago.

With multinational gigs, Fischer is music director of the Utah Symphony Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the oldest orchestras in Asia. He’s served as guest conductor for major orchestras around the world including the London Philharmonic, but this is his first mini-tour with the Royal Philharmonic.

Fischer, 60, will conduct six California concerts on the Royal Philharmonic tour, which starts Jan. 11 in Sarasota, Fla. Violinist Pinchas Zukerman will conduct nine dates in Florida, New York, New Jersey and Indiana.

Although the conductor has changed, the Mondavi program remains the same, featuring Igor Stravinsky’s “Petrushka” and Franz Lizst’s Piano Concert No. 2 with soloist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Limited tickets ($37.50-$150) are still available.

The Davis stop is part of a long-planned United States tour for the London-based Royal Philharmonic, among the globe’s most famous classical ensembles. Following Davis, the orchestra wraps up its American visit with two concerts at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall on Jan. 28 and 29.

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington