Former Oregon Symphony Conductor Carlos Kalmar Cleared in Title IX Investigation

The acting Title IX coordinator at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where Kalmar is a principal conductor, stated that the alleged conduct “could not constitute sex discrimination or sexual harassment as prohibited by Title IX.”

Carlos Kalmar (Courtesy of Grant Park Music Festival)

After a Title IX investigation into allegations of “inappropriate behavior,” Carlos Kalmar, who served as music director of the Oregon Symphony for 18 years, has been cleared of wrongdoing by the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he has been a principal conductor since 2021.

“Based on the evidence found in the investigative report, CIM has concluded that the specific allegations against Carlos Kalmar did not violate the Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, and Sex Non-Discrimination Policy Under Title IX,” acting Title IX coordinator Dean Southern said in a statement.

Reports of an investigation into the conduct of Kalmar, 65, who is also the institute’s director of orchestral studies, surfaced last spring, with reporting that an email from Title IX coordinator Vivien Scott had been sent to students asking if they had experienced sexual harassment from Kalmar.

“It was with great horror that I read one of Carlos Kalmar’s course evaluations,” Scott wrote at the time. “This is not the first time that I have heard his name—detailing inappropriate behavior of varying degrees.”

Kalmar’s attorney, James Wooley, said that his client “has never been accused of wrongdoing in his impeccable 40-plus-year career,” asserting that Kalmar “has been improperly identified in connection with a possible Title IX matter.”

During the course of the investigation, Southern said that he reviewed written statements, videos, interviews with more than 30 CIM students, faculty and staff members.

“The investigation found that the alleged conduct could not constitute sex discrimination or sexual harassment as prohibited by Title IX because the conduct did not have ‘the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with a person’s participation in educational programs or activities,’” Southern said.

He added, “Moreover, the conduct was not 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. Therefore, the Institute was obligated to dismiss the Formal Complaint of Sexual Harassment in this matter.”

Portlanders are familiar with Kalmar controversies (during his tenure at the Oregon Symphony, he was particularly criticized for firing flutist Dawn Weiss). He remains a significant presence in the world of classical music, serving as the principal conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago in addition to his post at CIM.

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