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Thomas Cooper

BPYO

May 4, 2012 at 9:22 PM

Not long ago, I wrote a blog entry describing the heartbreak in the NEC Youth Philharmonic Orchestra over the firing of renowned conductor Benjamin Zander. For over 38 years, he led passionate young people on journeys through some of the most difficult pieces in the orchestral repertoire. Indeed, the YPO recorded pieces such as Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no. 5, and Mahler’s Symphony no. 1. The Youth Philharmonic Orchestra became world famous for tackling these works, and playing them well, inspiring many. Most recently, the orchestra, under Benjamin Zander, played a sold out concert of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony in Vienna at the ancient Musikverein, the Golden Hall of Vienna. The crowd was moved to tears. However, in January of 2012, Zander was fired, and there were tears of a different kind as the YPO sat upon the stage of Jordan Hall and played Elgar’s Nimrod (Zander’s farewell piece) unconducted in honor their lost leader. I remember looking around the orchestra myself as I played, watching my friends play with tear-glistened cheeks. Following the concert were protests of all kinds, ranging from a public statement, to picketing on the steps of the Coply Plaza Hotel as the Board of Directors at NEC sat inside. However, as protests died down, and conductor auditions for YPO came to a close, the chance for Zander’s return to the podium looked slim. In spite of all this, news came today that has brought hope to so many members of the orchestra.

Zander announced the inception of his own youth orchestra yesterday, in conjunction with the Boston Philharmonic. The Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra promises to be a top notch Youth Orchestra, just as the YPO was. While there are many differences, such as member age ranging through 21, and performances at Boston’s Symphony Hall instead of NEC’s Jordan Hall, the orchestra, in my opinion, will not be so different. I expect that it will still start weekly at TEN PHAST THREE, just as YPO did, and I do expect there to be “white sheets” to Mr. Zander every rehearsal. Just like the YPO, the BPYO promises to be a tuition-free, touring ensemble, bringing top notch music to the world.

On the program for the first season, starting in September of 2012:
John Harbison Symphony no 2
Gustav Mahler Symphony no. 5
Strauss Ein Heldenleben

“The first two concerts are scheduled in Boston's Symphony Hall on November 25, 2012 and March 10, 2013. Other events in planning include a concerto concert for BYPO members and a May performance in Carnegie Hall.” –Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Directors


Though it is possible that many NEC Students may be hesitant in leaving the safety (established by Zander) of the YPO, I believe many will join in on the new venture. The BPYO looks promising and I hope to write of the orchestra’s success next year.

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