Conductor Carlos Kalmar is cleared by investigation

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An investigation into allegations against Grant Park Music Festival artistic director Carlos Kalmar at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he teaches, concluded that the allegations against the conductor did not constitute sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination, and did not violate Title IX, according to a letter emailed to conservatory faculty, staff and students on Monday.

Carole Rendon, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and partner at the BakerHostetler law firm, led the investigation. Her report — compiling interviews with more than 30 CIM students, faculty and staff, and other written and video evidence provided by both parties — was reviewed by acting Title IX coordinator Dean Southern, CIM’s dean and vice president of academic and student affairs.

In Monday’s letter, Southern concluded that Kalmar’s conduct did not have “the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with a person’s participation in educational programs or activities.” He also said that Kalmar’s behavior did not discriminate “on the basis of sex, nor was it so severe or pervasive as to create an objectively offensive environment such that it denies anyone equal access to educational opportunities at CIM based on gender.”

Kalmar and the complainants were informed of the findings on Monday afternoon, with a campus-wide update sent that evening “in light of the public attention surrounding this case.” Both parties have five business days to appeal the decision.

In a statement provided to the Tribune, Grant Park Music Festival CEO and president Paul Winberg said the outcome “further reinforces our decision this spring to move forward with Carlos Kalmar as our Artistic Director and Principal Conductor through the 2024 season.”

“All of us at Grant Park Music Festival are pleased to learn the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) was obligated to dismiss the formal complaint against Carlos Kalmar as a result of their investigation conducted by an outside law firm, ensuring a fair, impartial and independent process,” Winberg wrote. “We appreciate the thorough nature of CIM’s investigation and their unusual step of making public the results of their investigation given the media attention resulting from the earlier improper disclosure of unsubstantiated and anonymous accusations.”

The allegations against Kalmar came to public attention in April, shortly after CIM’s then-Title IX compliance director sent an all-student email requesting more information from those who “have experienced (or observed) behavior on Mr. Kalmar’s behalf that can be considered sexual harassment.”

Kalmar has taught at CIM as the conservatory’s director of orchestral and conducting programs since 2021. The same year, he announced his intention to step down from his Grant Park role in the 2024 season, in part to focus on his role at CIM.

A CIM press representative provided a copy of Southern’s letter to the Tribune but declined to comment further. Kalmar did not respond to the Tribune’s requests for comment by press time.

Hannah Edgar is a freelance critic.

The Rubin Institute for Music Criticism helps fund our classical music coverage. The Chicago Tribune maintains editorial control over assignments and content.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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