Rethinking James Levine's musical work amid sexual abuse scandal

James Levine conducts the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2007.AFP/Getty Images

December 10, 2017

Editor's note: This column originated as a post by host Fred Child on Performance Today's Facebook page. The post appears below for those who want to join the discussion.

And the long-overdue reckoning has begun in the world of classical music, as well. James Levine, one of the great conductors of our time, stands accused of sexual abuse. The Metropolitan Opera, where he was a revered music director for decades, has suspended its relationship.

So how do we, as broadcasters, respond? How do I respond? Keep playing his marvelous recordings? Perhaps without naming him?

I fervently believe that great art transcends its creators; powerful music takes its own place in our lives, minds, and culture. That might lead me to keep his recordings on the air. But I just can't. Not now.

It's entirely possible my views will evolve as Levine's case moves ahead, and as others like it come to light. But here's where I stand right now: This is not an abstract cultural issue; he is accused of inflicting grievous harm to living members of our musical community. Out of respect for these people and their wounds, I choose not to broadcast performances featuring Mr. Levine on the podium.

Let the healing and soul-searching begin in sunlight, out from under his shadow.