A long, reasoned article by Geoff Edgers in the Boston Globe magazine today examines some of the causes for Benjamin Zander’s dismissal from the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and the New England Conservatory but fails, on its own admission, to isolate why he had to be fired.
Zander and his supporters accept that it would have been right and proper to suspend him after a parent complained that he was employing a convicted – albeit rehabilitated – sex offender. He could then have been reinstated after a thorough investigation proved his innocence.
Outright dismissal, with its taint of personal disgrace and the destruction of his widely valued contribution, was excessive. Tony Woodcock, beleaguered president of the NEC, claims he had no alternative. He refused to comment on why Zander had already been forced to resign from the NEC or why his relationship with the conductor had turned from cordial to hostile.
No mention was made of the drinking allegations on the European tour. Woodcock did admit that he had been lax in pursuing other strands of sexual misconduct. ‘I take responsibility,’ he said.
But he remains in the job. Zander has been the victim of his mishandling of the case. The NEC board may need to draw conclusions if it wants to draw a line under this miscarriage of justice.
My own mailbox is full of testimonials to Zander from pupils past and present. None of them sound over-enthusiastic about NEC. I may publish them at some point. Meantime, the good news is that Zander is back conducting the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.
Hat-tip to Geoff Edgers for a balanced feature that tamps down the Globe’s previous PR-driven hysteria.