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Arts and Culture:
Benjamin Zander
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David Brancaccio speaks with world renowned conductor Benjamin Zander on finding possibility in our lives. Zander and his wife, psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander, are the authors of THE ART OF POSSIBILITY, which coaches readers on transforming their professional and person lives.

Benjamin Zander

Benjamin Zander started his early musical training in his native England with cello and composition lessons under the guidance of his father, and later under Benjamin Britten, England's leading composer and Imogen Holst, daughter of Gustav Holst. He left school when he was fifteen, moving to Florence to be taught by the great Spanish cello virtuoso, Gaspar Cassadó. He completed his cello training at the State Academy in Cologne, travelling extensively with Cassadó and performing recitals and chamber music. In 1964 Benjamin Zander completed a degree at London University, winning the University College Essay Prize, and a Harkness Commonwealth Fellowship for post-graduate work at Harvard. Boston has been his home ever since.

In 1967, Zander joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory, where he teaches an interpretation class, conducts the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and regularly conducts the conservatory orchestras. During his thirty-one year tenure as conductor of the Youth Philharmonic, he has taken the orchestra on twelve international tours, made five commercial recordings and several PBS specials. Eighteen years ago he became the Artistic Director of the joint program between NEC and Walnut Hill, a boarding high school for the Performing Arts in Natick, Mass.

In 1979, the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra was founded to be led by Zander. Over the past 24 seasons, they have traversed a wide repertory from Bach to specially commissioned works, with an emphasis on late Romantic and early Twentieth Century repertoire, especially the symphonies of Gustav Mahler. To celebrate the orchestra's 25th Anniversary in 2003-2004, the BPO performed an all-Mahler season, including a performance of Mahler's Second Symphony in Carnegie Hall.

In the last decade, Benjamin Zander has launched an extensive international career. He guest conducts all over the world, appearing frequently with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, in regular subscription concerts at the Royal Festival Hall. They are in the process of recording a series of Beethoven and Mahler symphonies for the Telarc label, already garnering extraordinary critical acclaim and several prestigious awards. HIGH FIDELITY named Zander's recording of Mahler's Sixth as the best classical recording of 2002.

In 2002, Zander made his debut with the Israel Philharmonic, and returned to conduct four performances of Mahler's Third Symphony with the orchestra in 2003. Recently he has also conducted orchestras as diverse as the Bournemouth Symphony and the Malaysian Philharmonic in Kuala Lumpur. He toured with the newly formed Youth Orchestra of the Americas to Washington, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, and appeared with the National Youth Orchestra of New Zealand in Wellington and Auckland. 2003-2004 brought return engagements with the Israel Philharmonic, the Scottish and Irish National Orchestras, and debuts with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and the Australian Youth Orchestra.

Benjamin Zander also travels the world to speak to organizations about leadership. In the summer of 2003, he delivered a four-hour presentation to 6,000 schoolteachers in Singapore. He has appeared three times as a keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he was presented with the Crystal Award for "outstanding contributions in the Arts and international relations." A best-selling book, THE ART OF POSSIBILITY, co-authored with his partner, psychotherapist Rosamund Zander, was published in 2000 by Harvard Business School Press and released in paperback in 2002 by Penguin. It has been translated into twelve languages.

Zander was awarded the 2002 "Caring Citizen of the Humanities" Award by the International Council for Caring Communities at the United Nations.

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