Conductor Peter Thomas resigns amid investigation into relationship with student
Peter Thomas conducting the Auckland Symphony Orchestra in 2017. Photo / Supplied
One of Auckland’s leading musicians has resigned his post as conductor of the city’s symphony orchestra amid allegations he had an inappropriate relationship with a student he taught in a large secondary school.
Peter Thomas sent an email to members of the Auckland Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday announcing that he was stepping down as conductor and music director of the group.
It comes after he also resigned as director of the music program at Epsom Girls Grammar School last year and now faces an investigation from the Teaching Council into his behavior.
The student, now 19, told Stuff in July that she had sex with Thomas and became dependent on him.
The Herald tried to reach Thomas for comment.
In the email he sent on Wednesday and seen by the Herald, he did not say why he had resigned as conductor of the Auckland Symphony Orchestra.
“I have loved working with you for the past 11 years and am very proud of what we have all done,” Thomas wrote.
However, in an email he sent to members a day earlier, on Tuesday August 24, he said he was “disputing these accusations” made by his former EGGS student and that he wanted to continue. lead next year.
“Regarding the article (Sunday July 4); it was a shock to me, my family and my friends,” Thomas wrote in the email.
“I realize that this has had an impact on you and the entire ASO community as well. I have challenged these accusations through the appropriate channels and will continue to do so.”
Thomas then suggested bringing in guest conductors for the rest of the year to give “time for things to settle down”.
“My suggestion for the rest of 2021 and beyond is this,” he wrote.
“I will be organizing guest conductors and a repertoire for the October and December concerts.
“Next year, I will take over the conduct of the orchestra. This will give things time to calm down.
Thomas claimed he had the support of sponsors and guest musicians.
“I have contacted sponsors, venues and soloists and they are happy to continue working with ASO and me as Music Director,” he wrote.
“I have also received a number of calls from people interested in joining us, as well as from members of the public eager to see us in action.”
In addition to teaching at EGGS, Thomas had participated in a Saturday morning music program called Remuera Music School.
The group had given private music lessons this year, including after Thomas quit his teaching job at EGGS and was told he was under investigation by the Teaching Council.
Thomas also started another business last year called Orchestrated Events – again after learning he was under investigation by the Teaching Council.
The homepage of the orchestrated event’s website states that it hosts “concerts for children”.
“Interactive children’s concerts that come to your school with visits from a variety of outstanding professional musicians,” he said.
The Herald asked the Teaching Council in June if they were aware of Thomas’ new venture and if they had any concerns about it.
“If a teacher has accepted an ‘undertaking not to teach’ while under investigation by the Board, he is not permitted to hold a teaching post until the investigation is completed. has not been fully resolved, ”a spokeswoman said.
“Other forms of non-teaching employment are beyond the purview of the Teaching Council.”
The Teaching Council also said in June that Thomas was still under investigation but could not give further updates.
Earlier in January of this year, he said an “investigation into the allegations has been underway since October 2020 and we have no further updates.”
“We are unable to provide specific details of ongoing investigations or cases for the purposes of confidentiality, privacy and to ensure natural justice.”