Jeff Melanson has resigned as president and CEO of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra – a decision the TSO says was arrived at mutually.

“Basically Jeff and the TSO had to make a determination as to whether or not it was in the best interests of the TSO that he continue on as CEO,” board chair Richard Phillips told The Globe and Mail on Wednesday. “There are various other things that Jeff has to focus on outside of the TSO that made it perhaps more difficult for him to do as good a job as he would have wanted to as the CEO of the TSO. But he is the first to say that.”

The resignation follows allegations contained in a court document filed earlier this month by Mr. Melanson’s estranged wife, Eleanor McCain. In filing for annulment of their marriage, Ms. McCain alleges that Mr. Melanson married her and took the TSO job to escape serious problems at the Banff Centre, where he was president and CEO – and, according to the document, facing allegations of sexual harassment as well as an inability to deliver on an ambitious redevelopment plan for the Alberta arts and conference centre.

The document filed by Ms. McCain, who is a singer and daughter of the late food-industry billionaire Wallace McCain, alleges inappropriate behaviour by Mr. Melanson at both the TSO and the Banff Centre as well as Toronto’s National Ballet School, where he served as executive director and co-CEO until making the move to Banff. She is seeking annulment of the marriage which, according to the document, was ended by Mr. Melanson abruptly by e-mail in January, 2015 – nine months after they wed.

The allegations have not been tested in court.

When asked if there was anything in the 34-page court filing that concerned the TSO board, Mr. Phillips said he would not comment. “I think I’ll leave that to his personal life.” He said there were no complaints about Mr. Melanson at the TSO.

“The discussions at the board,” he added, “it really wasn’t as sort of gossipy as it might appear from the outside.… I think we did good governance at the TSO and the decision was taken really based on … what’s in the best interests of the TSO going forward.… It was more a forward-looking, how can the TSO be best positioned to flourish in the future?”

The TSO board met over two days – beginning last week and concluding on Monday, when the decision to part ways with Mr. Melanson was finally made. Mr. Phillips says the parting was amicable and that the board does not regret its decision to hire Mr. Melanson, who joined the organization in 2014.

“The TSO really was happy with a lot of the directions that Jeff went in,” Mr. Phillips said, adding that the TSO plans to continue to build on Mr. Melanson’s strategic vision for the organization. “He really did take the TSO to a new level.”

Sonia Baxendale, a TSO board member, has stepped in as the TSO’s interim CEO while a search is conducted for a new leader.

A call to Mr. Melanson on Wednesday was not immediately returned. When The Globe reached him earlier this month to discuss Ms. McCain’s allegations, he called them “grossly inaccurate” and “incredibly undignified.” He said he would not discuss the specific allegations in the document. “I will be responding in due course, but that will be through the courts and not through the press.”

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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