Boston's Zander scandal: the long firing line at NEC

Boston's Zander scandal: the long firing line at NEC


norman lebrecht

February 12, 2012

Information has emerged about a house-clearing policy put in place by NEC president Tony Woodcock, before he fired popular conductor Benjamin Zander in dubious circumstances.

First, Woodcock got rid of two Zander protégés: YPO assistant conductor and clarinetist Jonathan Cohler, and the well liked young Irish conductor John Page, who was NEC’s resident conductor.

Also shot through the door was Dean and Executive Director, Mark Churchill, the man who set up NEC’s connection to Venezuela’s El Sistema, as well as NEC at Walnut Hill School, the NEC Lab Charter School and more.

Mark Churchill

Mark Churchill was forced into retirement with the  words: “You will be missed and we will remain grateful for all your contributions.” At Woodcock’s present rate of progress, few of Mark’s contributions will survive.

If you care for the future of NEC and for natural justice in the music profession, get out today and demonstrate.


  • Roy Lisker says:

    It would be helpful if someone could dig up more information about Tony Woodcock’s tenure with the Minnesota Symphony and the Oregon Symphony. If he behaved as despotically with these institutions as he is doing with the NEC one would have a better idea of just the kind of person one is dealing with. In some ways I am even more depressed by the forced retirement of Mark Churchill. Everything he’s done for the NEC has been constructive, without those annoying “pecadillos” that a flamboyant, impulsive personality like Ben Zander will inevitably commit

    • John Grimes says:

      While at it, someone should also inquire about Woodcock’s earlier firing of Angela Myles Beeching, NEC’s phenomenal Career Placement Services guru.

    • Leslie James says:

      Woodcock’s tenure in Minneapolis is well known in the orchestra world. He had a fight with Osmo Vanska and Osmo said it’s him or me. That time it was Woodcock who lost.

  • Dexter Edge says:

    So when do we get to start calling it “NEC’s Woodcock scandal”?

  • Anne S says:

    Occupy NEC, anyone?

  • Mati Braun says:

    It is time to get rid of Woodcuck.

  • Jason says:

    NEC needs new leadership. Woodcock must GO!!!! The sooner the better. No one the an EGO that big should be allowed to be in that position of leadership. This Zander situation is just one of the many underlying issues that keeps that school from flourishing and the fish rots from the head!!!

  • Marty says:

    Everyone in Boston knows Ben Z has a huge ego, but Mark Churchill is a prince of a human being. That either should be so unfairly treated is absolutely disgraceful. I wonder if Woodcock suffers from megalomania or some kind of narcissistic personality disorder. Hard to explain his behavior otherwise.