Allegations of sex abuse at all five of UK's music schools

May 8, 2013

Probe at Chetham's School of Music widens amid claims of widespread abuse at all elite schools

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THE SCANDAL of sexual abuse at the UK's leading music schools widened today after police revealed more than 30 women have reported incidents at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester.

The women came forward after the school's former choirmaster Michael Brewer, 68, was convicted in March of abusing pupil Frances Andrade at the school in the 1970s and 1980s, the BBC reports. Police are investigating a pool of about ten suspects in relation to the new allegations.

Yesterday, Channel 4 News said its own investigation of the UK's five specialist music schools had uncovered reports of "inappropriate behaviour" at every institution. The reported behaviour spans four decades, and includes claims that Marcel Gazelle, the Belgian pianist and founding music director of the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey, sexually abused pupils as young as ten years old in the 1960s.
Gazelle, who often performed with Menuhin, died in 1969. His family have described him as a "good man" and strongly deny the allegations.

But the violinist Nigel Kennedy, who studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School, described Gazelle as a "repeat offender" who abused the trust of students and their parents. Kennedy said music was widely held to be a "pure form of art" and the fact it could be abused by "one sick selfish person is very, very disturbing".

A teacher at two other leading music schools in the late 1980s and early 1990s told Channel 4 News that sexual relationships between instrumental teachers and their pupils were "common". The broadcaster also found one case in which three pupils at the same school say they were sexually involved with the same teacher during the 1990s.

Brewer, a former National Youth Choir music director, and his ex-wife Kay, were found guilty on five counts of indecently assaulting Andrade more than 30 years ago. Andrade, 48, took her own life less than a week after she gave evidence against Brewer at his trial.

The five specialist music schools, which tutor pupils as young as eight, say the majority of the allegations uncovered by Channel 4 News are historic and that recent allegations have been dealt with "appropriately". The schools say they have full confidence in their safeguarding procedures which are under constant review.

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