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Two New York Philharmonic Musicians Sidelined After Misconduct Allegations

The announcement comes after an article in Vulture last week detailing alleged misconduct by Associate Principal Trumpet Matthew Muckey and Principal Oboist Liang Wang in 2010


A spokesperson for the New York Philharmonic today told The Violin Channel that over the weekend, a statement was sent to the orchestra that read: “Please note that for the time being, Matthew Muckey and Liang Wang will not be at rehearsals or performances."

This news comes after a recent article was published in Vulture, a part of New York Magazine, on Friday, April 12, outlining allegations of misconduct by Matthew Muckey and Liang Wang against former NY Philharmonic horn player, Cara Kizer, in 2010.

Muckey and Wang were fired from the orchestra in September 2018, after the ensemble hired a former federal judge to conduct an independent investigation. According to the New York Times, the orchestra received reports that the pair had “engaged in misconduct,” but no further details were given at that time.

After they were dismissed, Muckey and Wang continued to deny they were guilty of the allegations and appealed to their union, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians, to challenge their firings. 

The union decided the pair were "terminated without cause," and the orchestra was forced to reinstate them in 2020. Since then, Muckey and Wang have remained active members of the ensemble and are currently listed on NY Phil’s roster.


As reported by investigative reporter Sammy Sussman, the following details are based on his interviews with Cara Kizer, her friends and colleagues, law-enforcement officials, and over 200 pages of documents from the Vail Police Department and Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office

On July 24, 2010, the New York Philharmonic (NYP) finished the second concert in their weeklong residency in Colorado for the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. Kizer claims that after the concert, she was drugged by Muckey and Wang and raped.

According to Kizer, she woke up feeling groggy and sick the morning after, and after further physical inspections, expressed concern to her husband and friend, trombonist (and first woman to join the NY Phil brass section) Amanda Stewart.

Kizer went to the police and was seen by Detective Rusty Jacobs, and later went to a local hospital, where she was given a sexual-assault exam and tested for date-rape drugs. Before leaving Colorado, Kizer obtained an order of protection from a judge preventing Muckey from interacting with her, but when the residency in Vail ended, no official charges had been filed against Muckey or Wang.

Kizer’s tenure process occurred in the spring of 2012. Muckey had originally been part of her tenure committee but was removed after the orchestra returned from Vail. While she declined to speak about it, Sussman explains that “four people familiar with the matter say that she signed an NDA before accepting a six-figure settlement and leaving the orchestra.”

According to Sussman, Detective Jacobs in Vail received test results that found Muckey’s DNA on a piece of personal evidence submitted by Kizer. Kizer also realized that the ten-panel test she’d taken in Colorado didn’t include a test for GHB — which exhibits symptoms similar to those she’d had the night of July 24. After sending a hair sample to a private lab, the results revealed that her sample was “positive for the presence of GHB.”

Jacobs sent the case file to the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office recommending that charges be filed, but the DA declined to prosecute Muckey, saying that the hair follicle test “did not meet the standards for litigation.” 

At a meeting between Kizer and Deputy District Attorney Joe Kirwan, Kirwan told her he didn’t think his office had enough evidence to proceed. With no new action from the police or DA’s office, Muckey and Wang remained in the orchestra. Both Kizer and Stewart, who also did not receive tenure, left New York altogether.

“I finally have this information, and now all these other people are screwing it up,” Kizer told Sussman. “It felt like I was meeting such resistance, like this system didn’t care that a crime happened to me, to my body.” 


The NY Phil returned to the allegations in 2018, a few months after Harvey Weinstein’s behavior ignited the #MeToo movement. They commissioned a six-month, $336,573 investigation that saw Judge Barbara S. Jones interview 22 individuals and review “extensive documentary evidence.” Based on this, the NY Phil concluded that the two men had “engaged in misconduct warranting their termination,” resulting in their firing in September 2018.

Steven J. Hyman, Muckey's lawyer, said at the time that “Mr. Muckey has not engaged in any misconduct, and there is no legitimate basis by the NYP to terminate him … [he intends to take] all steps necessary to restore his good name … He looks forward to the union’s review of the matter and its pursuit of his rights under the collective bargaining agreement.”

Wang's attorney, Alan S. Lewis, wrote that “Mr. Wang is extremely disappointed in the Philharmonic’s decision and emphatically denies that he engaged in any misconduct.”

Muckey and Wang filed a grievance with their union, Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians challenging their dismissals. In April 2020, arbitrator Richard I. Bloch ruled in favor of Muckey and Wang, citing the fact that the “events at issue occurred some 8, 10 and 12 years prior” and the “potential degradation of corroborative evidence over time.” Sussman reports that Bloch wrote: “sex acts are normally performed privately,” and “the task of demonstrating assault charges, including those resulting from the refusal to take ‘no’ for an answer, can be difficult to prove.”

At the time of the arbitrator's decision, the New York Philharmonic said in a statement, “We are profoundly disappointed by the arbitrator’s decision. While we obviously disagree with the arbitrator and stand by our original actions and decisions in this matter, we will, as we must, abide by the arbitrator’s ruling and reinstate both players.”


Four years later, Sussman’s recent report in Vulture has caused a multitude of responses and opinions from all sides of the industry. Many major composers, musicians, educators, and leaders, have signed a petition calling for investigation to be reopened.

Gary Ginstling, the Philharmonic’s current president and chief executive, told The New York Times that the report had “prompted a lot of strong feelings.” Reporter Javier C. Hernández writes that Ginstling declined to say "whether the orchestra would once again seek their termination."

Furthermore, Sara Cutler, Local 802's newest president and executive director (as of last year), told Hernández that Muckey and Wang's suspensions “are good first steps but they can’t be the last.”

“As a woman, a musician and a new union president,” she said, “I am horrified by what was in the story and we are committing the full resources of Local 802 to erase the culture of complicity that has raged at the N.Y. Philharmonic for too long.”


Musicians of the New York Philharmonic posted on social media:

Alan S. Lewis, Mr. Wang's lawyer, told The New York Times that “The Philharmonic decided that it would be best for Liang and the other musician to take a couple of weeks off while the Philharmonic manages the firestorm that the distorted article ignited.

“Liang loves the Philharmonic as well as his colleagues, who he holds in high regard and has always treated with respect and dignity," Lewis said in a statement. "He looks forward to soon returning to the Philharmonic stage.”

Muckey's lawyer, Steven J. Hyman, said that “We expect that Mr. Muckey will be able to resume his position as associate principal trumpet and the matter once and for all put to rest.”


The musicians of other major orchestras have come forth in support of Cara Kizer. The musicians of the Philadelphia Orchestra shared the following today:


Musicians of the Seattle Symphony, with whom Kizer went on to play with after leaving New York, recently posted:


Lastly, it has been reported that the Taipei Music Academy and Festival have fired Liang Wang from its faculty, in addition to the Oregon Bach Festival dismissing Matthew Muckey as its principal trumpet.

The Violin Channel will provide ongoing coverage of the story.


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