LONDON — Renowned conductor Charles Dutoit denied serious accusations of sexual misconduct that have caused major symphonies to suspend relationships with him as a new allegation surfaced on Saturday.
Dutoit formerly spent 25 years as the artistic director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
Dutoit's office issued a statement saying the allegations "have absolutely no basis in truth" and vowed to mount a meaningful defence. The Associated Press reported earlier this week that three singers and a musician had accused him of sexual assault.
His first response to the allegations was defiant.
"The allegations made against me are as shocking to me as they are to my friends and colleagues. I do not recognize the man or the actions being described in the media," he said in a statement emailed to the Associated Press.
"Whilst informal physical contact is commonplace in the arts world as a mutual gesture of friendship, the serious accusations made involving coercion and forced physical contact have absolutely no basis in truth. I am taking legal advice and plan to meaningfully defend myself and I believe within this current climate, media accusations on serious physical abuse do not help society tackle these issues properly if the claims are in fact not true."
Hours after his denial was made public, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra confirmed it has received a sexual harassment allegation against Dutoit.
In a statement the symphony said the allegation will be investigated by an independent third party, which will meet with the complainant and make appropriate recommendations.
Dutoit, who married Canadian violinist Chantal Juillet in 2010, was the artistic director of the Montreal Symphony between 1977 and 2002.
He resigned amid complaints from the Quebec Musicians' Guild about "offensive behaviour and complete lack of respect for the musicians."
The 81-year-old Dutoit is artistic director and principal conductor at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. The orchestra said Friday it had jointly decided with Dutoit to relieve him of upcoming concert obligations.
The Philadelphia Orchestra, its chief conductor from 2008-12, later Friday also cut ties with Dutoit and said in a statement it has removed Dutoit's title of conductor laureate following the allegations of sexual misconduct.
It brought to eight the number of major symphonies that have ended long relationships with Dutoit since Thursday when The Associated Press published a story with graphic sexual assault accusations by the four women.
The Sydney, Boston and San Francisco symphonies also announced they were cutting ties with Dutoit, citing the "serious nature of the allegations" detailed by the AP. Meanwhile, orchestras in New York, Chicago and Cleveland quickly released statements saying that Dutoit has withdrawn his services for upcoming concerts.
—With files from The Canadian Press.