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Candidate Declines Honorary Doctorate from Cleveland Institute of Music

Music journalist Anne Midgette has declined the award, following news of a CIM staff member being investigated for sex-based discrimination

 

Anne Midgette is the first woman to write about classical music on a regular basis for The New York Times. In 2018, she became known for her #MeToo article on classical music in the Washington Post, where she was a classical music critic until 2019.

Recently, she was to receive an honorary doctorate from the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) on May 20, 2023, and give the commencement address. Her resolve to decline the award was not a light one, she explained.

However, following an inquiry on Carlos Kalmar (CIM’s director of orchestral and conducting since 2021) under a Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) investigation at the school, it was a decision Midgette felt compelled to make.

According to the U.S. Health and Human Services, Title IX is a federal civil rights law prohibiting sex discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal funding.

CIM’s Title IX compliance director has been requesting more information from students who may have experienced or observed behavior “on Kalmar’s behalf that can be considered sexual harassment,” as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Part of Midgette’s statement on her website reads:

“Over the last few weeks, a number of students and faculty have reached out to me, many of them anonymously, and spoken to me to tell me their versions of what’s going on.

“The school has now hired an outside law firm to conduct an investigation, as is right and proper, and I look forward to the full situation being revealed and properly dealt with in the next few months.  

“However, regardless of what the investigation determines, I am not convinced, based on my many conversations, that CIM has acted in the best interests of its students and faculty, and I am therefore uncomfortable appearing to support the leadership of the institution at this particular time. I believe that I was chosen for this recognition not least for my work in addressing #MeToo in the classical music world; and I am thus especially unwilling to have my name linked to a situation in which many women I spoke to feeling unheard, afraid and angry in precisely the ways that my coauthor Peggy McGlone and I tried so hard to address in our 2018 Washington Post story. 

“I am not currently a full-time journalist, which means I don’t have to present this story in a way that I would if I were preparing it for print, or reveal the names of my sources, even if I knew all of them. I simply have had to satisfy myself that I was getting an accurate picture of the situation and that I am acting in accordance with my conscience, and I am more than satisfied on both those counts. 

“I didn’t know a great deal about CIM when I was approached about this honor. In the past weeks, however, I have developed a very high opinion of CIM’s students and faculty. They deserve to be heard and supported. I hope and believe that they will take this gesture as a greater show of solidarity than my appearing in person could have been.”

 

Midgette has written about the performing arts for The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Opera News, and Town & Country, plus lectured and held residencies at several universities and music conservatories.

Her many articles have covered topics such as phone-hold music, and 2017’s top female composers. Using social media as a platform for conversations, she encourages discussions on future goals, inclusivity, and accountability in classical music.

A graduate of Yale University, Midgette majored in Classical Civilization, and lived in Germany for 11 years, where she worked as a translator, wrote for publications and travel guidebooks, and edited a monthly magazine.

Additionally, she is the co-author of “The King and I” with Herbert Breslin on the latter’s 36-year management of tenor Luciano Pavarotti, and “My Nine Lives,” a memoir of pianist Leon Fleisher. She is currently working on a historical novel about Nannette Streicher, the woman who built pianos for Beethoven.

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