European orchestra fires conductor over alleged misconduct

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AMSTERDAM (AP) — A top European orchestra fired its chief conductor Thursday following accusations of sexual misconduct.

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in the Netherlands said it ended its affiliation with Daniele Gatti in the wake of a Washington Post story last week in which the conductor "was accused of inappropriate behavior."

The Amsterdam-based Royal Concertgebouw said in a statement that the Post article and reports from women who came forward after its publication "irreparably damaged the relationship of trust between the orchestra and the chief conductor."

Gatti's lawyer called the allegations a "smear campaign" in a statement Thursday.

"(Gatti) has asked me to inform all media that he is extremely surprised and that he firmly denies all sorts of allegations," attorney Alberto Borbon said. "The maestro has asked his lawyers to protect his reputation and to take all needed actions should this smear campaign continue."

The 56-year-old Gatti became the orchestra's chief conductor at the start of 2016-2017 concert season.

The orchestra says both the allegations and the Milan-born conductor's reaction to them "have caused a lot of commotion among both musicians and staff, as well as stakeholders both at home and abroad."

Gatti was principal conductor of Rome's Orchestra Dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia from 1992-97, chief conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from 1996-2009, music director of the Orchestre National de France from 2008-16 and chief conductor of the Zurich Opera from 2009-12.

He became the third major conductor in the past year to lose a job over allegations of inappropriate behavior.

Charles Dutoit resigned as artistic director and principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra after The Associated Press in December reported sexual assault allegations against him.

James Levine, the music director emeritus of New York's Metropolitan Opera, was fired in March after a 46-year career at the company, which said an investigation had found evidence of sexual abuse and harassment.

Dutoit and Levine have denied any improper behavior.

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