Berliner Tageblatt - Top French conductor suspends work in sexting controversy

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Top French conductor suspends work in sexting controversy
Top French conductor suspends work in sexting controversy / Photo: © AFP/File

Top French conductor suspends work in sexting controversy

Leading French conductor Francois-Xavier Roth is suspending his performances after a media report accused him of sending sexually explicit messages and pictures to musicians, an orchestra and concert venue said Friday.

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Roth, one of the best-known conductors worldwide, founded and heads the French orchestra Les Siecles and also holds a prestigious position of as director of the Guerzenich Orchestra and Opera in the German city of Cologne.

In an article published Wednesday, French satirical weekly Canard Enchaine cited testimonies from musicians -- only one of whom gave their identity -- who said they had received insistent messages from the maestro in which he allegedly showed his genitals.

The Paris Theatre des Champs-Elysees (TCE), where Les Siecles holds a residency, told AFP that Roth would be "replaced next season" during the concerts by the ensemble at the venue.

Stefan Englert, chief executive of the Guerzenich Orchestra, said in a statement that it took the report "very seriously" and was investigating.

"Francois-Xavier Roth has decided to suspend his work with immediate effect in order to give the Guerzenich Orchestra and the Cologne Opera the opportunity to clarify and deal with the situation," he said.

"Since our primary goal is to ensure transparent and thorough clarification, we ask you to be patient," Englert added.

There is so far no mention of any legal complaint against Roth, who is also a longstanding guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Les Siecles had been due to give a concert at the TCE in Paris conducted by Roth on Wednesday night. The concert went ahead but he was replaced by another conductor at the last minute.

Contacted by AFP, Les Siecles said Wednesday that "the orchestra has never received any alert, nor any report from musicians concerning Mr Roth, nor has it condoned the slightest abuse of power".

It added that "no musician was ever excluded for speaking out regarding his behaviour", it added.

Founded by Roth in 2003, Les Siecles is unique in it performs all music on original instruments of the time, whether baroque music, the classical repetoire or modern 20th-century works.

The closely knit classical music industry has generally been seen as being slow to feel the effects of the #MeToo movement calling out sexual harassment that has shaken the film sector.