Boston's Zander scandal: Now NEC alumni petition for his reinstatement

Boston's Zander scandal: Now NEC alumni petition for his reinstatement


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2012

Members of Boston’s Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, past and present, have posted a petition calling for the reinstatement of their conductor, Benjamin Zander, who was sacked by the NEC for employing a videographer with a sex-crime in his distant past. Zander has admitted his naivety and apologised.

The New England Conservatory has admitted no responsibility. Its president, Tony Woodcock, had fallen out with Zander before the videographer mater came to light.

The petition is up and running here. Anyone who believes in natural justice for Benjamin Zander is encouraged to sign.

Call to Reinstate Benjamin Zander as Conductor of YPO

Call to Reinstate Benjamin Zander as Conductor of YPO



  • Anonymous says:

    Can we all be reminded of what this “sex crime” was? Seems like such a minor thing….oh, right, now I remember… Mr. Benjamin lured, drugged, and raped, a 13 year old boy in the late 1970s.

  • 1) You sure have reliable sources that support Your writing “lured and drugged”, don’t You? I couldn’t find that anywhere in the internet (including Boston Globe and

    2) You write “in the late 1970s”? You force me to doubt Your sources. “During a two-year period beginning in 1990”, it says everywhere else. Which, by the way, describes a scenario that differs very much from what You depict.

    3) “The Boston Globe reports that New England Conservatory officials said they have received no complaints from students or alumni about a convicted sex offender hired by renowned conductor Benjamin Zander to make videos over the past decade.”

    4) The article is about reinstatement of conducter Benjamin Zander, not of videographer Peter Benjamin. Writing “Mr. Benjamin”here might be a bit misleading.

    • Anonymous says:

      1) Unfortunately I currently cannot locate the source for the “luring and drugging.” I’ve seen it printed, but since I can’t find it now, I will retract it until I locate it.

      “Benjamin pled guilty to one count of rape and abuse of a child, 11 counts of posing or exhibiting a nude child, and two counts of giving a minor harmful material.” “His case included allegations that he secretly videotaped himself having sex with three teenage boys.” Sources Boston Globe and Boston Herald. My point in repeating these facts is that supporters of Zander’s reinstatement gloss over the horrifying things that occurred by saying “sex crimes in Peter Benjamin’s distant past.” Parsing my words is fine, but isn’t what I’ve quoted to you bad enough??

      2) I made a typo. I meant late 1990s. I should also say that is actually when he was released. The crimes took place in the early 1990s. Mea culpa.

      3) It doesn’t matter if they have received no complaints. He videotaped himself having sex with children, and Mr. Zander irresponsibly put Mr. Benjamin in a situation where he was videotaping minors. I don’t think Zander ever had anything but good intentions, but he was severely reckless and made a huge mistake. Would you change your mind if a student came forward? Isn’t the risk reason enough to not employ him to videotape kids?

      4) I never meant to imply Zander was responsible for the sex abuse. I’m writing Mr. Benjamin because, well, that’s Peter Benjamin’s name. No ulterior motive at all.

  • Roy Lisker says:

    I was saddened to read that Benjamin Zander had “apologized” for doing nothing more incorrect than using the services (not even hiring: that was done by the Opera department) of someone convicted of sex offenses two decades ago. I learn that in fact Zander’s brother, a lawyer, wrote the original draft of the apology.
    I just want to say that no direct appeal to Tony Woodcock will have any effect. Neither Zander, nor his students, nor the alumni will make him change his decisions. To his mind, to give in makes him look weak, and against a formidable adversary like Benjamin Zander he can’t allow that.
    No: only a direct threat to his position as president of the NEC will cause him to take action. The most effective direct threat will be in the form of student (possibly faculty) DEMONSTRATIONS and boycotts. I would hazard a guess that the NEC has never once seen a student demonstration outside its doors in all the years of its existence. Music conservatories are pathologically neutered when it comes to anything having to do with politics. “Study, get the degree and go” seems to be enough for everyone involved. Thus, the VERY FIRST student protest movement in all of NEC history, demanding Woodcock’s resignation, would wake up the Board of Trustees, and get some REAL action going. That would be effective. Roy Lisker

  • Anonymous says:

    Let’s be clear what this videotaping consisted of. This is a video of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, not taken by Benjamin, but representative of the kind of thing he was doing. Can anyone find anything remotely sexually titillating about this? Is it not clear that the videographer was separated by a large distance, and a camera, from the young people? In this age of ubiquitous and easily available pornography, why would Mr. Benjamin have needed something like this to get off on?
    By the way, parents regularly videotape NEC Prep concerts — and they do not get CORI’d.

  • Marie A. Krausz says:

    I have yet to see any indication that Mr. Benjamin was alone with any Conservatory student. His work there was performed openly and in the presence of others, including adults. I have decided to discontinue my annual support of the Conservatory in protest against this gross unfairness, and have so notified Mr. Woodcock.