Zander’s Theater

The hardworking staff (and the Missus) walked by the Copley Plaza Saturday evening and encountered maybe two dozen protesters holding signs that said “Reinstate Zander.”

That would be Benjamin Zander, late of the New England Conservancy Conservatory, which cashiered him after it was revealed that he’d “knowingly hired a registered sex-offender to videotape NEC’s Youth Philharmonic Orchestra over the past decade,” as WBUR’s Radio Boston reported.

Saturday’s protest was organized by YPO alumni (Facebook page here) and previewed at Slipped Disc:

Starting Saturday evening at 6pm in the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, NEC will be holding its annual “Feast of Music” fundraiser, which the members of the Board of NEC and President Tony Woodcock will be attending. This is our opportunity to show the NEC administration, donors, and greater community how we feel: treating Ben unfairly and dismantling his legacy at NEC Prep is wrong and reconciliation is right. We have alerted the Boston Police Department and City Hall of our plans.

Hopefully you have read the thoughtful and informative letter by Neil Rudenstein, former President of Harvard University, and Michael Zander, Professor Emeritus of Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science:

Sadly, the NEC administration continues to ignore its constituents, first squashing students’ voices, then ignoring the petition, and now dismissing these respected, influential voices as “concerned family members,” just because these leading thinkers happen to be Ben’s brother-in-law and brother, respectively. The letter details the history of the videographer’s engagement at NEC and the lack of due process in firing Ben. Considering the environment of fear that has engulfed NEC, it is sad but not surprising that the most confident voices calling for reconciliation come from outside the institution rather than from within.

Case in point: this Letter to the Editor that ran in Sunday’s Boston Globe:

Conductor punished by a sanctimonious mob

THE FIRING of Benjamin Zander by the New England Conservatory has all the elements of a great opera: a talented, compassionate man offers aid to an outcast, and is punished for his kindness by a sanctimonious mob ( “Conservatory will not rescind Zander firing; Officials rebuff letter from family,’’ Metro, Feb. 22).

Zander was fired for hiring Peter Benjamin, a man who had sinned and been punished. Under our laws, however heinous Benjamin’s crime, once he was released from prison, he was entitled to another chance. Zander offered him that chance and there is no evidence that Benjamin betrayed his trust. Unless the Board of Trustees has contrary proof, they should show some forgiveness and allow him get on with his life.

A larger question is why bother with prison if we do not think inmates can be redeemed; why not just bring in the guillotine and behead a transgressor as soon as the guilty verdict is read?

I applaud Zander’s supporters for standing up for him, but I would add that the Board should reinstate both Zander and Benjamin.

Jane Mathews


The hardworking staff searched for coverage of the protest in Sunday’s Globe or Boston Herald.

Result: Zero Zander.

Keep an eye on this one. It could jump ugly.

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1 Response to Zander’s Theater

  1. Laurence Glavin says:

    What is the New England “Conservancy”? Do you mean “Conservatory”, you know, IT’S ACTUAL NAME!

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