I want to say something about Ben Zander
Benjamin Zander has been dismissed as Music Director of the New England Conservatory Youth Orchestra and from the training programs he has run for young people brilliantly for over thirty years. Allegations have been made that Ben hired a convicted sex offender to serve as videographer, putting this person around young people. It is also reported that Ben’s dismissal is really the result of disagreements with NEC administrators over a recent-triumphant European tour of the Youth Orchestra.
It’s a murky mess.
Ben and I are not friends, but we know one another. (We are certainly not not friends.) We have several close friends in common, and we have been in one another’s company over the years. I’m a huge fan of his performances of Mahler and Beethoven. He has led the Boston Philharmonic for many years, and hearing their Mahler cycles in Jordan Hall was a privilege. (A popular priced one, too!) I was among the many who rejoiced when Telarc began recording his work commercially. Ben has a wonderful record as a teacher and motivational speaker, and I recommend his book, The Art of the Possible.
I have seen Ben work diligently with gifted kids and with special needs children, showing to both the joy of music, with patience and kindness. His Youth Orchestras have always been terrific.
A person who hires a convicted sex offender to work around children is showing poor judgement. As a parent, I’m appalled. As a parent I would not hesitate to trust my daughter to Ben Zander if she were so inclined musically. If the allegations are true (see Ben’s's website) I very much regret the poor hiring choice and Ben’s departure from NEC. As always, the kids lose.