Boston Zander scandal exclusive: Woodcock speaks. Using both sides of his mouth.

Boston Zander scandal exclusive: Woodcock speaks. Using both sides of his mouth.


norman lebrecht

February 11, 2012

Geoff Edgers reports in today’s Globe that students are planning to picket this Sunday’s rehearsal of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, from which conductor Benjamin Zander was dismissed on spurious grounds.

Slipped Disc has obtained a letter of supposed reassurance sent by NEC president Tony Woodcock to worried and discomfited faculty members. He is trying to have it both ways – urging teachers to accept the sacking of Zander while admitting a degree of dissent. The sacking, he repeats, is final.

Read on:

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From: “Tony Woodcock” <>
Date: February 10, 2012 6:13:05 PM EST

Dear Trustees, Overseers, Faculty, Staff and Penguin Editors,

I wanted to copy you on the letter that Leslie Wu Foley, Dean and Executive Director of Preparatory/Continuing Education, sent out to Youth Philharmonic Orchestra families earlier today. In it, she acknowledges the challenging circumstances of the last few weeks and offers once again to talk with any YPO students who feel the need to express themselves.  Her letter is an excellent one, respectful in tone yet firm in explaining once again the reasons for our decision. She makes it clear that the decision will not be changed. I commend it to your attention.

It has also come to our attention that there is a potential plan to disrupt tomorrow’s rehearsal and audition by conductor candidate José-Luis Novo. Please be assured that we are prepared for this eventuality and have made arrangements to keep the audition closed to all but student participants, the conductors, and the search committee. You should also know that the Boston Globe is planning to publish a story about the situation in tomorrow’s paper and, for that, I was interviewed by arts reporter Geoff Edgers.

I want to emphasize to you, as I did to Mr. Edgers, that we recognize the right of YPO students, parents or alumni to express their disagreement with our decision. However, out of respect for the students who want to perform, the conductor candidate, and the future of the YPO, we must insure that the selection process moves forward professionally and in the spirit of providing our students with the best possible musical experience. Once again, let me reiterate, NEC’s decision in this matter—taken by administration and the Board of Trustees—is final. It will not be reversed.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact me.

Best regards,

Tony Woodcock



Tony Woodcock, President

New England Conservatory

290 Huntington Ave.

Boston, MA 02115



  • george brown says:

    This from the man who has also gone on record saying the kids at his school probably won’t ever be able to support themselves at their chosen craft. Classy!!

  • Sixtus says:

    Seems to me that any “conductor candidate” willing to take the position is stepping deep into a bucket of bad karma. Not to mention risking being labelled for the rest of his/her career as a self-promoting Woodcock crony.