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Transition Plan for YPO

Three-Year Plan for Leadership of Orchestra

NEC and Benjamin Zander Announce Transition Plan for Youth Philharmonic Orchestra

Recently returned from a triumphant tour to Central Europe where he and NEC’s Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (YPO) performed Mahler’s Ninth Symphony in locations significant in the life of composer Gustav Mahler, Benjamin Zander and New England Conservatory have announced a three-year transition plan for the YPO leadership.

Retaining the title of Music Director of the YPO through 2013, Zander will maintain his usual rehearsal and concert schedule with the orchestra during the 2011-12 season. During that year, NEC will lead a search process to identify a new conductor for the YPO, with the goal of announcing the Music Director Designate by June 2012 and introducing the new leader to the Prep School, the College, and the community the following year.

The 2012-13 season will be planned as a 40th Anniversary celebration recognizing Zander’s extraordinary commitment and achievements with the orchestra. It will culminate in a tour with the YPO during the summer of 2013 and with Zander being named Music Director Emeritus for life. In 2013-14, Zander will also be available to serve in an advisory capacity to the Dean and Executive Director of the Preparatory School.

Commenting on the plan, Zander said:
 “For the past 38 years, I have made my way each Saturday to NEC to work with the extraordinary young musicians of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.  At the end of my 40th year, in two years, I will be passing on the baton.

“It is with pure joy and satisfaction that I look back at these fruitful years, during which literally thousands of musicians have passed through YPO, many going on to distinguished careers in music, others to careers in diverse fields, but all enlivened and enriched by their YPO experience. 

 “Together, we’ve tackled some of the most challenging works in the orchestral repertoire.  We’ve performed both at home and in major concert halls, city plazas and sports arenas on four continents. Our performances have taken us from Rio de Janeiro to Jerusalem, from Beijing to Vienna’s Musikverein.  Our work together and our travels have stretched these young people to the extremes of their capacities and have introduced them to the immeasurable joy that comes from being part of a group performing at the highest level and contributing to the world.  YPO members and alums keep saying that it is the life-lessons above all that they will carry with them throughout their lives.

“That the YPO experience transforms the players is clear, but it is also true that my own life has been shaped in large measure by the four decades in the company of such amazing young people.

“Of course, I will have mixed feelings about leaving YPO after all these glorious years. However, there are significant opportunities in the offing and I am excited to follow them up.  For now I am looking forward to throwing myself enthusiastically into the next two years with YPO and the final tour in 2013.”

NEC President Tony Woodcock congratulated Zander on his 44 years as a faculty member of NEC, his 38 years leading the YPO, and the thrilling musical experience that he gave the YPO on the Mahler tour.  “Ben has developed the YPO into an ensemble of extraordinary virtuosity and heart that was on brilliant display during the June 23 performance of the Ninth Symphony in Vienna’s Musikverein, which I was privileged to attend. We are enormously grateful for everything Ben has achieved at NEC and we look forward to paying tribute to those accomplishments over the next two years.”

Leslie Wu Foley, Dean and Executive Director of Preparatory/Continuing Education, also praised Zander’s leadership of YPO, which she observed at close hand while traveling with the orchestra in Europe.  “Ben made this tour a profound experience for our students by taking them deep into Mahler’s musical and psychological core and providing a rich geographical and cultural context for the man and his music. I look forward to celebrating him and his legacy over the next two years.”


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music and jazz.

NEC presents more than 600 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, 106-year old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115