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  • Writer's pictureChoo Choo

Cleaning House

With powerful men in Hollywood dropping like flies amid a relentless barrage of accusations of sexual misconduct varying in hue from Harassment Chartreuse to Assault Hangover-Poop-Black, it leads me to wonder how many other fields will follow suit (the glaring exception being the executive branch of our government, which is apparently exempt from even the most basic laws of humanity, much less morality or actual judiciary law).

The music business, after all, is just another branch of the entertainment field, and though classical musicians are held to an invisible loftier standard, anyone who's watched a handful of "Mozart in the Jungle" episodes or been to any classical summer music festival anywhere in the world would beg to drastically lower said standard.

Classical music is teeming with a cast of temperamental, perverse, whimsical, sexually repressed-and/or-depraved maniacs (and I proudly include myself in this crowd) who are somehow egotistical and delusional enough to think that an intelligent, discerning portion of the population care about what they have to say or play. Sounds like Hollywood, right? But the nascent history of Hollywood male indiscretion, barely a century old, is a mere fledgling compared to the hundreds of years men--re: old white men--have dominated the classical music industry, shaping its course, abusing their power and stifling countless voices along the way.

I've been in the business long enough to hear countless sickening stories, and have even collected a few of my own. I'm not ready to share them yet, but this power imbalance has shaped the very way I interact with colleagues and potential clients. Finding that I have to be polite and sweet to people I find morally (and musically) reprehensible because they hold the key to the gigs. Wondering if I'm only being hired based on my visual appeal rather than my musical ability. I have been luckier than most. For the most part I have been fortunate to have older male mentors who have respected me as a musician first, and have championed my playing because they believed in my art. But it only takes one person to shatter that illusion, to make you feel like an object, something to be looked at and not heard. Even people who mean well, their comments leave indelible grooves in the psyche: "Your playing is fantastic, and it doesn't hurt that you're so pretty!" It's a compliment. And it's belittling.

I am both thrilled and appalled by the men and women who have spoken out against their aggressors; thrilled because it's about damn time, appalled by the sheer number of incidents, and the unspoken implication of countless more behind the scenes who, like me, aren't ready or willing to talk about it just yet. Let this be a call to arms. I hear you. We hear you. Speak.

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