Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) president and CEO Jeff Melanson has stepped down, amid allegations of impropriety made by his estranged wife in court documents. In a statement, TSO said that it and Melanson, ‘mutually decided that it is in the best interests of both parties that he resign from his employment.’
Melanson’s wife Eleanor McCain, who is a singer and heiress of the McCain Foods group, has filed for annulment and claims that Melanson tricked her into marriage for his own financial gain. She further alleges that he left his previous job at Banff Centre because of, ‘his harassment of female employees and his inability to deliver on his grandiose plans.’
McCain has also said that Melanson hired Caroline Márkos as manager of social media in July 2015, a woman he was in a relationship with. TSO terminated her employment just four months later. Márkos has defended her relationship with Melanson via a statement on her Facebook page.
Melanson and McCain married in April 2014, but the marriage ended just nine months later when – according to McCain – Melanson sent an email saying the marriage was over.
Melanson refuted all allegations through his twitter account: ‘The claims against me are inaccurate and undignified. I am Saddened that Ms McCain has chosen to say such things and in this way, but even more disappointed as these statements are untrue and hurtful to myself and my loved ones.’
This is not the first time Melanson has been involved in controversy. In April last year he cancelled a concert by Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa because of political comments she made on twitter – a move that led some to say Melanson and TSO were censoring free speech.
TSO has formed an executive search committee to find Melanson’s replacement. Senior board member Sonia Baxendale has taken on the role of interim CEO.