Benjamin Zander has been the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic since its formation in 1979. In their twenty-one years together they have explored an enormous range of repertory - from Bach to specially commissioned works, from the main thoroughfare to fascinating side routes. Last season's performances of Mahler's 8th Symphony brought to a culmination their twenty-year journey through the cycle of symphonies, which has garnered an international reputation for Mr. Zander as a Mahler conductor. In January this year the Mahler 8th was repeated before sold-out audiences in Boston's Symphony Hall and in Carnegie Hall, New York, marking the BPO's first performance in Carnegie Hall in sixteen years.
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For the past 28 years, Benjamin Zander has also been the conductor of the New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he has made eleven international tours, including, this past summer, an historic tour to Mexico and Cuba. The YPO is widely regarded as one of the finest youth orchestras in the world.
Born in England, Mr. Zander started to compose at the age of nine. His extraordinary musicianship at such a young age brought him to the attention of Benjamin Britten and his close associate, Imogen Holst, who became his teachers. He left school when he was 15, moving to Italy and Germany where he studied cello with the great Spanish virtuoso, Gaspar Cassado, travelling all over Europe performing as a cellist. He returned to England to take a degree at University College London, where he was awarded a Harkness Fellowship to do post-graduate work at Harvard and in New York. Boston has been his home for over thirty years.
As a guest conductor, Mr. Zander has appeared in 14 countries. In recent years, he has formed a close association with the London's Philharmonia Orchestra with whom he is a regular guest conductor. His live Telarc recording with them of Mahler's Ninth Symphony, which includes a full-length companion CD explaining the music for the lay listener, has garnered phenomenal critical praise and has become one of the best selling classical recordings of the past year. This recording was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Orchestral Performance earlier this year.
In October of 1998 Mr. Zander and the Philharmonia began recording a complete Beethoven symphony cycle to be released, also by Telarc, over the next few years. The first installment of the series, Symphonies Nos. 5 and 7, appeared just recently to extraordinary critical acclaim. In these recordings Mr. Zander is exploring issues of interpretation as they relate to playing the symphonies with a modern orchestra while taking Beethoven's famously controversial metronome indications into full consideration.
For the past 33 years Mr. Zander has been a teacher at the New England Conservatory in Boston. He is also the Artistic Director of the music program at Walnut Hill, a boarding school for the training of highly accomplished young performing artists. He has taught master-classes all over the world.
Using music as both metaphor and medium, Benjamin Zander has become a much sought-after speaker to major organizations, bringing his insights as the conductor of a symphony orchestra to leaders involved in transformation and change. His work was the focus of a recent BBC TV film shown worldwide, and was featured on CBS's "60 Minutes" in January. A book, "The Art of Possibility," written with Rosamund Stone Zander, will be published by Harvard Business School Press in September, 2000. At the 1999 World Economic Forum in Davos, where he was a keynote speaker, Mr. Zander was presented with the Crystal Award which honors artists who, in addition to having won international recognition through their artistic achievements, have also made an outstanding contribution to cross-cultural understanding.
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