Celebrated Conductor Benjamin Zander brings the award-winning Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra on tour to South Africa.
Performing two great works in the Orchestral repertoire – Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life) and Beethoven’s iconic Fifth Symphony. Zander’s bracing, revelatory account of this Beethoven symphony thrills audiences all over the world whenever he conducts it.
Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life) Richard Strauss (1864-19490)
Symphony No. 5 in C minor Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Conductor: Benjamin Zander
Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
The Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (BPYO) was formed in 2012 under the auspices of the Boston Philharmonic. Conducted by Benjamin Zander, the BPYO’s motto is “Shaping Future Leaders Through Music.” The BPYO’s 120 enthusiastic and talented young musicians range in age from 12 to 21, affording younger members of the orchestra the chance to collaborate with older students who are beginning their professional careers. In turn, collegiate members of the group are offered the opportunity to nurture and coach the future generations.
The BPYO offers a unique opportunity for young instrumentalists who want to study great orchestral repertoire in a musically dynamic and intellectually challenging community. BPYO members are asked not only to master their parts in order to gain a deep understanding of the musical score (including through regular sectional rehearsals led by top professionals from the Boston musical community), but also to engage in dialogue with Mr. Zander through weekly “white sheets”, sheets of paper where they are encouraged to share their thoughts on all aspects of the music and the rehearsal process. These conversations lead to stimulating discussions on personal leadership and often initiate ongoing individual conversations with Mr. Zander through email, phone calls, and conversations at rehearsals, creating a unique mentoring relationship between Mr. Zander and each musician.
In its inaugural 2012-13 season, the BPYO performed two concerts to sold-out audiences in Boston’s Symphony Hall and undertook a wildly successful five-city tour of The Netherlands, culminating in a performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony in Amsterdam’s acclaimed Concertgebouw. Six months later, in December 2013, the BPYO performed at Carnegie Hall, receiving high praise in The New York Times for their “brilliantly played, fervently felt account.” Subsequent tours included: an 18-day tour featuring concerts in the Czech Republic, Germany, and Switzerland, including performances in the Prague Rudolfinum, the Philharmonie of Berlin, and the KKL of Luzern in 2015: six concerts in Spain in 2016; performances and outreach activities in Peru, Uruguay, and Argentina in 2017; eight concerts in Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and The Netherlands, including performances in the Prague Rudolfinum, Budapest National Concert Hall, Vienna Musikverein, and Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 2018; an eight-city tour to Brazil, and a six-city tour to Greece in 2022. The orchestra plans to tour South Africa in June of 2023. In 2019 they were named “Best Classical Music Ensemble” by Boston Magazine. Each international engagement has been met with top critical approval and has led to the formation of life-long bonds between the orchestra and the musical cultures of the various host countries.
The BPYO has released three highly acclaimed commercial recordings: Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, recorded live at Carnegie Hall in 2013, and Mahler Symphonies No. 6 and No. 9, recorded live at Symphony Hall in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The BPYO’s many musical and personal growth opportunities cultivate exceptionally skilled musicians, who become respected and acclaimed leaders in music and in their communities. WBUR classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz, formerly of The Boston Phoenix, once said, “I wish more professional orchestras played as thrillingly as this.”
For more than 50 years, Benjamin Zander has enjoyed a unique position as master teacher, deeply insightful and probing interpreter, and profound source of inspiration for audiences, with a deep commitment to making classical music accessible and engaging for all listeners. In his quest for insight and understanding into the Western musical canon and the underlying spiritual, social, and political issues that inspired its creation, he continually engages with well-informed musical and public intellectuals, including students, professional musicians, corporate leaders, and politicians around the world.
Zander started out as a cellist and composer, studying composition under Benjamin Britten and Imogen Holst at age twelve. At age fifteen, he left his London home to train for five years in Florence and Cologne with the great Spanish cellist Gaspar Cassadó. After completing his degree at the University of London, he received a Harkness Fellowship, which brought him to the United States. He began his journey as a conductor after settling in Boston in 1965. He has
appeared as a guest conductor with orchestras all over the world.
From 1965-2012, he served on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC), where he taught musical interpretation–which critics and the public alike have praised– and conducted the Youth Philharmonic and Conservatory orchestras. He led the NEC Youth Philharmonic on fifteen international tours and made several documentaries for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). He was also the founding artistic director of the NEC’s joint
program with the Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts.
In 1979, Zander founded the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO), comprised of some of Greater Boston’s top professional, amateur, and student musicians. The BPO’s performances shed fresh, insightful, and sometimes provocative light on the interpretation of the central symphonic repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries, inspiring thousands of musicians and renewing their sense of idealism.
Thirty-three years later in 2012, he founded the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (BPYO), which draws young musicians age 12-21 from the Northeastern US to its weekly rehearsals and performances in Symphony Hall. The tuition-free orchestra performs at concert halls in Greater Boston and tours regularly during the summer, performing in such renowned concert halls as Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and the Berlin Philharmonie. Past tours have included South America in the summer of 2017, an eight-European city performance of Mahler’s 9th Symphony in 2018, Brazil in 2019, and Greece in 2022.
In 2018, he established the Benjamin Zander Center, which houses recordings of his “Interpretations of Music: Lessons for Life” classes; it also provides comprehensive access to all aspects of Zander’s musical work through an immersive multimedia platform. For the last twenty-five years, Zander has simultaneously enjoyed a unique relationship with the
Philharmonia Orchestra in London. He has made eleven recordings with them, including a nearly complete cycle of Mahler symphonies, as well as Bruckner and Beethoven symphonies.
High Fidelity magazine named his recording of Mahler’s 6th Symphony Best Classical Recording of 2002; the Mahler 3rd received the Critic’s Choice award from the German Record Critics’ Award Association; the Mahler 9th and Bruckner 5th recordings received nominations for Grammy Awards for Best Orchestral Performance. Each recording includes a detailed audio explanation that aims to bring deeper meaning to the experience of listening to the music.
Zander also enjoys an international career as a speaker on leadership, including having given several keynote speeches at the Davos World Economic Forum, where he received the Chrystal Award for Outstanding Contributions in the Arts and International Relations. His TED Talk, “The Transformative Power of Classical Music,” has had over 20 million views, and the best-selling book, The Art of Possibility, co-authored with leading psychotherapist Rosamund Zander, has been translated into 22 languages. Other accolades include: the Caring Citizen of the Humanities Award from the United Nations in 2002; the Golden Door Award from the International Institute of Boston for his “outstanding contribution to American society as a United States citizen of foreign birth” in 2007; a Lifetime Achievement Award at the ABSA Achievement Awards in Johannesburg in recognition of his contributions in the spheres of Music, Culture and
Leadership in 2019 (the first non-South African to receive it; previous recipients include Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu); and the Julio Kilenyi Medal of Honor from the Bruckner Society of America in 2021.
Learn more about Benjamin Zander at benjaminzander.org
Watch Ben’s TED Talk at bostonphil.org/ted