Grammy-Nominated Benjamin Zander Conducts Mahler, Ravel, Butterworth in

Berlin, Konzerthaus; Jihlava, Mahler Festival; Prague, Rudolfinum; Salzburg, Mozarteum
Budapest, Bartók Hall; Pécs; Kodály Centre; Vienna, Musikverein; Amsterdam, Concertgebouw

JUNE 12—27, 2018


Mahler’s Epic Ninth Symphony Sets High Bar for Gifted Young Musicians Performing at Hallowed Concert Halls

From June 12-27, 2018, Classical Movements will present the 120-member Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (BPYO)—led by co-founder and guiding force Benjamin Zander—on an ambitious eight-city concert tour of Europe, performing for sold-out audiences in many of that continent’s most storied venues. The BPYO’s 15-day journey will find these prodigiously talented 12 to 21-year olds in Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and the Netherlands, including a headlining performance on Saturday, June 16 at the birthplace of Gustav Mahler, whose Ninth Symphony is the centerpiece of a demanding program that also features George Butterworth’s The Banks of Green Willow and Maurice Ravel’s La Valse.

Maestro Zander’s repertoire for the BPYO’s 2018 European tour—the orchestra’s fifth international concert tour—commemorates the 100th anniversary of the armistice of World War I, highlighting symphonic works at the dividing line between the Romantic and Modern eras. The program typifies the challenges that Zander (“one of the major Mahlerians of the day,” Boston Globe) sets before his Bostonians:

According to Zander:

“The Ninth is Mahler’s final completed symphony, and it would be taxing even for a world-renowned orchestra. You might ask what on earth can they get out of playing such a complex and difficult piece, and the answer is everything. They are overwhelmed by the incredible beauty of one of the most touching and intricate pieces of music ever written.”

In addition to the orchestra’s performance at the Gustav Mahler Festival in Jihlava, the historical border between Moravia and Bohemia, the BPYO will perform in cities of significance to Mahler’s life and career, including at the Konzerthaus in Berlin (Thurs, June 14), Rudolfinum in Prague (Mon, June 18), Mozarteum in Salzburg (Wed, June 20), Béla Bartók National Concert Hall in Budapest (Thurs, June 21), Zoltán Kodály Centre in Pécs (Fri, June 22), Musikverein in Vienna (Sun, June 24) and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam (Tues, June 26). Along the way, these students from Massachusetts will have the opportunity for cultural exchanges with fellow young musicians and orchestral professionals alike.

The two other works Zander has prepared for this tour are equally dramatic. Butterworth wrote his orchestral idyll The Banks of Green Willow in 1913. Tragically, WWI cut short the life of this promising English composer. Finished in 1919 as a reflection on the ravages of that same war, Ravel’s La Valse takes the Viennese waltz and transforms it into a whirling dervish harbinger of impending catastrophe.

“We know that these youngsters will play before musically sophisticated audiences in Europe, but the orchestra will not disappoint even the most seasoned listener,” says Boston Philharmonic Artistic Adviser Mark Churchill. “What they bring, in addition to the highest technical quality, is life, freshness and an engagement that is palpable and inspiring.”

Formed by Zander, Churchill and Managing Director Elisabeth Christensen in 2012, the BPYO quickly made its presence known in the classical world, receiving accolades reserved for orchestras well past them in age. The Chicago Tribune hailed the group’s inaugural recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 on Brattle Media as one of 2017’s top 10 classical releases. Meanwhile, New York Arts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Lloyd Schwartz called it “one of the most thrilling Mahler performances I’ve ever heard.”

BPYO players go through a highly selective audition process and pay no costs for a musical education that’s as much inspirational as aspirational, a platform for the overarching mission of shaping future leaders through music. The orchestra’s international performances have become an essential ingredient in the musical and personal development of these youngsters.

As Zander, himself, notes:

“This tour is not just a bunch of kids running from one city to another. This is a journey of the spirit. They have a profound understanding of the music, why they love it so much and why it has changed their life. What they want to do now is to share that passion with the world.”

It is hard to think of anyone better suited to leading a youth orchestra than Benjamin Zander, a man whom Simon Rattle called “the world’s oldest teenager.” Nearing 80, Zander approaches every endeavor with an age-defying youthful exuberance. “That passion and energy enables Ben to bond with these kids in such a unique way. He helps them to truly understand how great music connects with humanity and in leading successful lives,” Churchill says.

Read about BPYO’s 2016 tour of Spain with Classical Movements.


Berlin, GERMANY | Konzerthaus, Großer Saal

Date:               THURS, JUNE 14

Time:              8:00 PM

Tickets:           € 17-29

Jihlava, CZECH REPUBLIC | Gustav Mahler Festival

Date:               SAT, JUNE 16

Time:              6:00 PM

Tickets:           125-250

Prague, CZECH REPUBLIC | Rudolfinum

Date:               MON, JUNE 18

Time:              7:30 PM 

Tickets:           200-800 CZK via Colosseum and Bohemia

Salzburg, AUSTRIA | Mozarteum, Großer Saal

Date:               WED, JUNE 20

Time:              7:30 PM

Tickets:           € 8-17

Budapest, HUNGARY | Béla Bartók National Concert Hall

Date:               THURS, JUNE 21

Time:              7:30 PM

Tickets:           2000-3500 HUF 

Pécs, HUNGARY | Zoltán Kodály Centre, Concert Hall

Date:               FRI, JUNE 22

Time:              7:00 PM

Tickets:           1900 HUF

 Vienna, AUSTRIA | Musikverein, Großer Saal

Date:               SUN, JUNE 24

Time:              7:30 PM

Tickets:           € 7

Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS | Concertgebouw

Date:               TUES, JUNE 26

Time:              8:15 PM

Tickets:           € 18-35



The Banks of Green Willow (1913)

RAVEL, MAURICE (1875-1937)

La Valse (1919)

MAHLER, GUSTAV (1860-1911)

Symphony No. 9 (1909)

I. Andante comodo
II. Im Tempo eines gemächlichen Ländlers. Etwas täppisch und sehr derb
III. Rondo-Burleske: Allegro assai. Sehr trotzig
IV. Adagio. Sehr langsam und noch zurückhaltend


Listen to Zander conduct Mahler 9 with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra.


In September 2012, the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra was formed under the auspices of the Boston Philharmonic. Conducted by Benjamin Zander, the BPYO’s motto is “Shaping Future Leaders through Music.” The 120 enthusiastic and talented young musicians of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra range in age from 12 to 21. The wide range of ages affords younger members of the orchestra the chance to collaborate with older students who have already begun their professional careers. In turn, collegiate members of the group are offered the opportunity to nurture and coach the future generations.

BPYO offers a unique opportunity for young instrumentalists who want to study great orchestral repertoire in a musically dynamic and intellectually challenging community. BPYO members are asked not only to master their parts and to gain a deep understanding of the musical score (including through regular sectional rehearsals led by top professionals from the Boston musical community), but also to engage in dialogue with Mr. Zander, through weekly “white sheets,” where they are invited to share their thoughts on all aspects of the music and the rehearsal process. These conversations often lead to stimulating discussions on personal leadership and often initiate ongoing individual conversations with Mr. Zander through email, phone calls and conversations at rehearsal, creating a unique mentoring relationship between Mr. Zander and each musician.

In the inaugural 2012-13 season, the BPYO performed two concerts to sold-out audiences in Boston’s Symphony Hall and undertook a wildly successful five-city tour of the Netherlands, culminating in a performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony in Amsterdam’s acclaimed Concertgebouw. Six months later, in December 2013, BPYO performed at Carnegie Hall, receiving high praise in The New York Times for their “brilliantly played, fervently felt account.” In 2015, the group undertook an 18-day European tour with concerts in the Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland, including performances in Prague’s Rudolfinum, Philharmonie of Berlin and the KKL of Luzern. In 2016, BPYO performed six concerts in Spain. In 2017, the orchestra traveled to South America with performances and outreach activities in Peru, Uruguay and Argentina.  Each international engagement has been met with top critical approval and formed life-long bonds between the orchestra and the musical cultures of the various host countries.

The many musical and personal growth opportunities offered by the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra cultivate exceptionally skilled musicians who become respected and acclaimed leaders in music and in their communities. Lloyd Schwartz, formerly of the Boston Phoenix, wrote, “I wish more professional orchestras played as thrillingly as this.”

For the past 50 years, Benjamin Zander has occupied a unique place as a master teacher, deeply insightful and probing interpreter and as a profound source of inspiration for audiences, students, professional musicians, corporate leaders, politicians and more. He has persistently engaged well-informed musical and public intellectuals in a quest for insight and understanding into the western musical canon and the underlying spiritual, social and political issues that inspired its creation.

Zander founded the Boston Philharmonic in 1978 and has appeared as guest conductor with orchestras around the world. His performances have inspired thousands of musicians, renewed their sense of idealism and shed fresh, insightful and sometimes provocative light on the interpretation of the central symphonic repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries. Critics and the public have been united in their praise of Zander’s interpretations of the central repertory.

For 25 years, Zander has enjoyed a unique relationship with the Philharmonia Orchestra, recording a series of Beethoven and Mahler symphonies. High Fidelity named the recording of Mahler’s 6th as ‘the best classical recording’ of 2002; the 3rd was awarded ‘Critic’s Choice’ by the German Record Critics’ Award Association; the Mahler 9th, Mahler 2nd and Bruckner 5th recordings were nominated for Grammy awards.

In 2012, Zander founded the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (BPYO), which draws young musicians from the entire northeastern U.S. to its weekly rehearsals and high-profile performances in Boston. This tuition-free orchestra tours regularly and has performed in Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw and Berlin Philharmonie, among others. In the summer of 2017, the BPYO toured South America and will tour in Europe in 2018.

From 1965-2012, Zander was on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC), where he taught Musical Interpretation and conducted the Youth Philharmonic and Conservatory orchestras. He was the founding Artistic Director of the NEC’s joint program with The Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts. Zander led the NEC Youth Philharmonic on 15 international tours and made several documentaries for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). His interpretation class, “Interpretations of Music: Lessons for Life,” is being presented this season in partnership with the Boston Public Library once a month at the Central Library in Copley Square. They are free and open to the public, as well as made available online where they are viewed by tens of thousands of people around the world.

Zander enjoys an international career as a leadership speaker, with several keynote speeches at the World Economic Forum in Davos and at TED. The best-selling book, The Art of Possibility, co-authored with leading psychotherapist Rosamund Zander, has been translated into 18 languages.

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Moving the Music, Changing the World

The premier concert tour company for the world’s great orchestras and choirs, Classical Movements creates meaningful cultural experiences through music in 145 countries. An industry leader for over a quarter-century, Classical Movements organizes more than 60 tours every year, producing some 200 concerts every season. Producer of two international choral festivals—Ihlombe! in South Africa and Serenade! in Washington, D.C.—and the Prague Summer Nights: Young Artists Music Festival, in addition, Classical Movements’ Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program has commissioned over 65 works from Grammy, Oscar and Pulitzer Prize-winning composers. Winner of Americans for the Arts’ BCA10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts Award, since its founding in 1992, as a truly global company, Classical Movements remains committed to facilitating cultural diplomacy across the world—promoting peace through the medium of music.

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