Renowned classical conductor pulls out of remaining 2023 concerts after allegedly slapping, punching singer

John Eliot Gardiner, a renowned classical music conductor who has led some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, said Thursday he was pulling out of all of his remaining 2023 engagements, days after he allegedly hit a singer following an opera performance in southeastern France.

“I want to apologize to colleagues who have felt badly treated and anyone who may feel let down by my decision to take time out to address my issues,” the 80-year-old British conductor said in a statement. “I am heartbroken to have caused so much distress, and I am determined to learn from my mistakes.”

Gardiner, who was knighted for his services to music in 1998, allegedly hit bass singer William Thomas, 29, early last week following a performance of Hector Berlioz’s operatic masterpiece “Les Troyens,” at the prestigious Festival Berlioz in La Côte-Saint-André.

The incident happened backstage after Thomas exited the podium on the wrong side.

According to British newspaper The Times, Gardiner confronted Thomas after the performance and slapped him in the face. He also reportedly punched the singer in the mouth and threatened to throw a glass of beer over his head.

Last Friday, three days after the alleged incident, the Grammy-winning conductor said in a statement released by his management Intermusica that he apologized “unreservedly for losing [his] temper immediately after the performance.”

He said he had also offered his apologies to “Will Thomas, for whom [he has] the greatest respect.”

Gardiner didn’t offer any details on the incident, but said he knew that “physical violence is never acceptable and that musicians should always feel safe.”

With News Wire Services

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