Arts & EventsThey don’t call it the Mother Corp. for nothing

They don’t call it the Mother Corp. for nothing

They don’t call it the Mother Corp. for nothing

Photo: Montreal Symphony Orchestra under Kent Nagano (credit: Antoine Saito)


A name long banished to hell by CBC Radio 2 is still off the air, and that name is Charles Dutoit. I apologize if its appearance in print has caused you trepidation and palpitations. Rest assured the man is being soundly punished by the Mother Corp.

Mr. Dutoit was the conductor of Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal with whom he recorded 80 critically-acclaimed albums for international release on the London Decca label. Music critic Kate Molleson declared that "A 20-year recording contract with Decca made the MSO the most recorded orchestra in the world, and the best of these recordings — Ravel's La Valse and Daphnis et Chloe, Debussy's La Mer, Stravinsky's French-period ballets — remain unsurpassed." These recordings became a staple of Canadian content obligation on CBC classical music programs, and proudly so because of their world-renown musical quality. CBC beamed with pride at the mention of Dutoit’s name, that was until multiple sexual misconduct and assault accusations surfaced against that name.

The allegations against Dutoit are many and detailed, spanning decades and ranging from misconduct to full-on sexual assault. They are alleged to have occurred in several countries. Some accusers willingly revealed their names, while others chose to be anonymous. By numerous accounts this pattern of behaviour was widely known but was never discussed. Think Jian Ghomeshi lurking around Mother Corp. HQ. Allegations against Dutoit have never been tried in criminal court. An independent investigator for the OSM said she felt “the process did not yield sufficient information in relation to allegations of sexual harassment.” The Philadelphia and Boston Symphony Orchestras have found allegations to be “credible” but have provided few details. The CBC’s reaction in January 2018 was to forbid mention of the name on the airwaves to avoid any accusations of endorsement. The OSM’s stellar catalogue is still core CanCon at the Corp., but they are now somehow musically miraculously conductor-less. All other orchestras still seem to require conductors.

But here is what is odd. Everybody who knows classical music will automatically associate the conductor-less OSM with Charles Dutoit. Those who don’t will think of the omission as an error. Recordings featuring current musical director Kent Nagano and the OSM are played with the name Nagano dutifully credited. So dropping the Dutoit brand does not alleviate the stress triggered by the mere thought of his name. It’s “F(bleep)K!” rather than letting rip with the full-fledged four-letter word. It’s not working, because we still think it. Odder still is the fact that Mother will allow us to hear the name Adolf Hitler, against whom ‘harassment allegations’ by those he attempted to exterminate as peoples and nations have been successfully proven.

There’s something else I hear when I don’t hear the exiled Dutoit, and that is the anaemic, sanctimonious conversation that must have taken place when Mother snapped into crisis management mode. Maybe Dutoit is a complete pig, but the CBC has turned him into the pink elephant that we are supposed to think about not thinking about. He’s lurking around, but that name is not allowed in this house, thank you very much. Meanwhile, francophones are going to hell thanks to Ici Musique’s persistence in sleeping with the Dutoit devil and lovingly cooing his name after each satisfying broadcast. But Montréal has always has long had a reputation as a town where adults could behave as adults.

So, come on Mum, I’m a big boy and I want to be treated that way.  I’ll remember you told me so and will pay for my own trauma recovery if I hear the name Dutoit when I sneak over to Hull for a classical music bender. Remember the “Baby, it’s cold outside” ban? You quickly caved in to thousands of irate comments. This is just as insulting to your adult audience’s collective intelligence, because we know mentioning Dutoit is not an endorsement, and we know you are playing him, so be professional and use the man’s name, or dump him altogether, period. Either way, we’re grown ups and we’ll cope.

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