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Boston Philharmonic Orchestra

2021-2022 Season

The Boston Globe: Zander and BPO scale the heights of Mahler's colossal Third

"On Friday night in Symphony Hall, Benjamin Zander and his Boston Philharmonic Orchestra scaled the summit of Mahler’s Third Symphony, delivering the kind of heartfelt performance this epic work deserves...For Zander as a conductor, the nine completed symphonies of Mahler have been a kind of magnetic north across the decades, and this concert pressed into service the insights of years spent studying, reflecting on, and performing this composer’s music. In the work’s gigantic first movement, Zander drew out the elemental energies pulsing within what Mahler called his “Bacchic procession,” in which summer roars to life. His reading tended to emphasize the clarity of the roar above its dramatic effect, though the movement’s final bars had the excitement of a breathless dash. The trombone solos of Gregory Spiridopoulos were exemplary." -Jeremy Eichler 

The Boston Musical Intelligencer: Western Civ Flourishes with Zander-Mahler

"Friday’s traversal by the Boston Philharmonic, lovingly prepared and superbly conducted by our own venerable Benjamin Zander, rose to something more than merely fabulous; it was superb in execution, expression, and faithfulness to Mahler’s specifically detailed intention...Benjamin Zander communicated it with perfect clarity; he brought all of it off, and he brought it home not only intact but glowing." -Mark DeVoto

Boston Classical Review: Despite distractions, Zander, Boston Phil wrap season with triumphant Mahler Third

"The BPO played with rich, spacious tone in the devotional opening bars, growing in zeal and warmth as it continued. By the time the final peroration arrived, the ensemble and Zander were simply playing as extensions of one another: this was a Mahler performance of conspicuous emotional unanimity and musical intentionality." -Jonathan Blumhofer

Choristers of St. Paul's Choir School head to Symphony Hall April 8

Cambridge Day: Mahler to be heard Friday at Symphony Hall: Conducted by Zander, aided by St. Paul's Choir

WBUR Radio Boston: Last concert of the season. Interview with Benjamin Zander

Boston Musical Intelligencer: A Symphony Must Be Like The World

"Ben Zander’s lecture-guide to Mahler’s Third Symphony is not only admirably thorough, but also engaging in every one of its 76 minutes. My short first-person account will serve to point to that extended pre-concert guide to the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert at Symphony Hall on April 8th at 8:00." -Mark DeVoto

WBZ New England Weekend: Audio Interview with Benjamin Zander about the Boston Philharmonic's upcoming Mahler Symphony No. 3 concert

Boston Classical Review: Zander, Boston Philharmonic bring fresh vitality, insight to Beethoven's "Eroica"

"Zander has always had a singular way with Beethoven’s music. In his hands, its tempos tend to move flexibly, rhythms snap, and textures unfold transparently. ...this approach often helps revitalize Beethoven’s well-known themes and usually presents them in new-sounding contexts that shine lights on hidden aspects of form, structure, and phrasing. Sunday’s vigorously coherent rendition of the Third was largely in that tradition. Tempos drove from the first movement’s slashing downbeat yet everything was firmly controlled. The triadic main subject never lost its dancing impetus, while the music’s play of colors—especially the busy woodwind writing in the exposition and the sonorous horn scoring in the coda—shimmered.... Zander drew playing of real spirit from the BPO in the boisterous Scherzo, while the finale drove with swaggering character. The latter’s contrapuntal episodes, taken just this side of frenetic, revealed a turbulence that doesn’t always register in the movement. And the penultimate Adagio variation, unfolding resplendently, served as a majestic lead-in to the blistering, closing Presto." -Jonathan Blumhofer

"If the “Eroica” ended in a blaze of unconditional triumph, the BPO’s account of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 was, fittingly, more ambivalent...Ioniță effectively conveyed the music’s underlying sense of unsettledness... BPO provided an accompaniment that discreetly illuminated the music’s motivic organization. In particular, the woodwind and horn sections fired their interjections with immediacy and Zander’s direction of the Moderato’s hymn-like sequences glowed." -Jonathan Blumhofer

Boston Globe Review: Zander and Boston Philharmonic take on Shostakovich and Beethoven

"Zander led the orchestra in an compellingly vigorous performance of Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony. For years the conductor has attempted to puzzle out Beethoven’s metronome markings, which are so notoriously perplexing that many interpreters don’t even bother. For this performance, Zander took a more flexible approach...The push and pull ultimately suited this music’s own combination of dignity and revolution. The outer movements and the scherzo zipped along, at times with crackling intensity, without ever tipping over into breathlessness, while the storied “Marcia funebre” benefited from a genuinely march-like rhythmic clarity. Zander of course is also known as a tireless champion of Mahler’s music, and listening to this slow movement, one couldn’t help but think of the conclusion of the latter’s Ninth Symphony...the music haunts us by gradually resigning itself to a silence that represents its own ending, and the idea of ours."-Jeremy Eichler

Boston Musical Intelligencer: Power, Wit, and Maybe Revelation

"Zander managed both power and wit... Sunday’s performance was headlong, with a sly opening take on the bass line and intense fugue sections...  If the reading wasn’t a revolution, it was in many ways a revelation." -Jeffrey Gantz

WBUR Winter Classical Music Guide: Whether in-person or live streamed, catch these classical music performances this winter

"The online journal The Arts Fuse called Benjamin Zander’s Boston Philharmonic Bruckner Symphony No. 8 the classical Performance of the Year. I watched it, rapt, on my computer. I wouldn’t argue with that choice, though the BPO’s Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2, with the astounding Stefan Jackiw, made me thoroughly reevaluate a piece that never got to me before. Zander’s heavenly Mahler Fourth (it literally ends up in Heaven), with the impressive Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Russian soprano Sofia Fomina, which I attended in person, is another contender for that “best of” accolade. During the pandemic, Zander had all the players learn how to conduct this score, and every single one of them seemed to be aware of what everyone else was playing — quite rare among orchestral performances.

Zander’s winter BPO program includes Mussorgsky’s gorgeous Prelude to “Khovanshchina,” Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto, with the young Romanian cellist Andrei Ioniță (new to me) and Beethoven’s heroic Symphony No. 3 (Feb. 6). The BPYO concert (Feb. 27) will begin with Ravel’s “La Valse,” then move on to the Elgar Cello Concerto, with the American cellist Zlatomir Fung (also new to me), and Shostakovich’s popular Symphony No. 5." -Lloyd Schwartz

Arts Fuse: Top Classical Performances and Recordings of 2021

Performance of the Year

For the last couple of seasons, the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra has been the most consistent orchestra in town. Pretty much every concert they play is imbued with an excitement, drive, sense of discovery, and joy of sharing that is rare among orchestras, period, but especially professional outfits. While the shuttering of the Philharmonic for more than a year in, essentially, its glorious prime doesn’t rate with the countless human tragedies of this pandemic, it certainly ranks among the great local artistic losses of the last 21 months.

So how wonderful it was to have the BPO return to action with Anton Bruckner’s mammoth Eighth Symphony in October. This is a daunting piece in just about every way. But in conductor Benjamin Zander’s hands it all made astonishingly lucid sense: the 80-minute-long score may scale Alpine heights, but underneath it all beats a benevolent, approachable, profoundly human heart. Full review here.  -Jonathan Blumhofer

Boston Globe Review: The theme of the night at Boston Philharmonic's second concert of the season? Excellence 

"The program for the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra’s second concert of its 2021-22 season — Felix Mendelssohn’s “Hebrides” Overture, Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2, and Johannes Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 — didn’t have any obvious theme, but the excellence of the musicmaking at Symphony Hall on Wednesday was such that none was needed. " -Jeffrey Gantz

Boston Classical Review: Zander, Jackiw imbue familiar works with fresh purpose

"His enthusiasm for making clear the music’s textural densities and expressive ambiguities was evident from the first movement’s downbeat: everything flowed.  While Zander’s phrasings were flexible, the BPO’s playing was rhythmically tight and richly burnished...This was a Brahms Fourth of heroic, tragic proportions. Fittingly, it was received with thunderous applause." -Johnathan Blumhofer

Boston Musical Intelligencer: Zander Leads BPO in Heaven-Storming Bruckner's Eighth

"Perhaps it was the 1892 score’s performance indications, but Zander seemed to have Mahler in mind as he created an unusually human Bruckner, channeling the composer who played fiddle for town dances, loved dancing himself, and fell in love more than once." -Jeffrey Gantz

Arts Fuse: Classical Concert Review: Boston Philharmonic Orchestra Plays Bruckner's Symphony No. 8

"In the end, then, this was an epic performance of an epic piece. The night’s large, preternaturally attentive audience — there was nary a cough during any of the Symphony’s several luftpausen — intuited this. They rewarded the BPO’s effort with the rowdiest ovation I’ve heard at Symphony Hall since it reopened for concerts in September: rarely has the Eighth’s hard-won sense of perseverance and achievement seemed to fit a moment and resonate with the public so potently as it did on Friday." -Jonathan Blumhoffer

Boston Classical Review: Boston Philharmonic opens season with heaven-storming Bruckner

"Bold and beautiful, this season-opening performance proved a Bruckner experience to relish... Zander’s reading ultimately oriented this religiously charged music to the sublime." -Aaron Keebaugh

Arts Fuse: Classical Music Preview: Catching Up and Looking Ahead with Benjamin Zander on the BPO/BPYO season

"Benjamin Zander is ready to go. After being largely homebound since March 2020, the irrepressible founder and conductor of the Boston Philharmonic (BPO) and Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestras (BPYO) can’t wait to return to the concert hall." -Jonathan Blumhoffer

Boston Globe: Back to the symphony, a deep dive into caves, and devices to keep you healthy on the go ...

The Big Interview at The Monocle 21: Interview with Benjamin Zander October 1, 2021

WBUR Fall Classical Music Guide

"Benjamin Zander, music director of the Boston Philharmonic and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, is surely the most charismatic classical musician in Boston. This year, we’ll find both orchestras at Symphony Hall. Both fall BPO concerts are prime Zander territory..." -Lloyd Scwartz

2019-2020 Season

Boston Classical Review: Debargue finds depth in Liszt with impressive Boston Philharmonic debut

"Zander’s probing interpretation drew attention to every bold contrast: the dark and mysterious opening theme striking a perfect balance with the incisive rhythms that followed; and the second theme exhibiting a charming sweep and grandeur before another bout of agitation. Zander steered the entire first movement decisively through its climactic peaks and releases." -Aaron Keebaugh

Arts Fuse: Concert Review: Lucas Debargue and the Boston Philharmonic at Sanders Theatre 

"It’s hard to argue with the lineup of soloists Benjamin Zander and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) have brought to town this season. Their trend of finding and presenting some of the most striking artists of the day continued Thursday night at Sanders Theatre with the local debut of Lucas Debargue."-Jonathan Blumhofer

Boston Musical Intelligencer: Boston Phil’s Brilliant Visegradian Happening

"Zander and the orchestra triumphed with the Dvořák’s Seventh. This treasure trove of Bohemian nationalist tunes, multiplied by Brahms-worthy orchestration, shone from every quarter, with horns and flutes particularly rewarding this listener’s ear and with all string sections providing even and robust support throughout." -Victor Khatutsky

Boston Musical Intelligencer: Debarguments and Debarcations with Lucas

Interview of pianist Lucas Debargue by Victor Khatutsky.

Boston Globe: Boston’s best classical music events for the busy winter season

"The gifted young French pianist Lucas Debargue is the keenly anticipated soloist in Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Boston Philharmonic under Benjamin Zander’s baton, on a program that includes works by Kodaly and Dvorak (Feb 20-23," -Jeremy Eichler

WBUR: Here's The Classical Music Events On Our Calendar This Winter

"Ben Zander is admired for having his Boston Philharmonic Orchestra bring to fresh life old warhorses. Their February concert includes Kodaly’s popular Dances of Galanta, Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto with the fascinating young French pianist Lucas Debargue (Zander is also famous for bringing to Boston the most compelling instrumentalists), and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7. (Sanders Theatre and Jordan Hall; Feb. 20, 22 and 23) Zander also leads another orchestra, the astonishing Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Their spring concert is a wonderful pairing of two pieces that tell colorful and fantastical stories, Stravinsky’s “Petrushka” and Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique.” (Symphony Hall; March 12)" -Lloyd Schwartz

Arts Fuse: Top Classical Concerts and Recordings of 2019

Best Solo Performance

"For rapport between soloist and orchestra (and/or conductor), the fall of 2019 brought two mesmeric programs from the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. My favorite of those – by a hair – was Liza Ferschtmann’s account of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in November. Augustin Hadelich played the same piece with the Boston Symphony in September. Then, it was beautifully done, but sterile: his interpretation took no risks; parts of it were even a bit sleepy. Ferschtmann, on the other hand, brought the music to life with a panache and vigor that should be a model for all violinists navigating these well-trod pages." -Jonathan Blumhofer

Boston Musical Intelligencer: Critics’ Faves From Passing Year

"it rocked, it rolled, it unrolled, the ensemble ablaze. … More than once during the concert I wished I had brought my children and grandchildren." -David Moran

Arts Fuse: Concert Review: Boston Philharmonic plays Beethoven and Rachmaninoff

"Ferschtman is a violinist with unimpeachable technique and a compelling stage presence. Her tone is silvery and pure. In Thursday’s performance, her playing was consistently poetic, whether in the Concerto’s delicate, exposed textures or in its hearty, rustic gestures." -Jonathan Blumhofer

Boston Classical Review: Soloist, Boston Philharmonic offer an intimate take on Beethoven concerto

"Zander led the Boston Philharmonic in a delicate reading of the familiar concerto that yielded a fresh sense of poetic depth. Violinist Liza Ferschtman proved an equally sensitive soloist in her Boston debut." -Aaron Keebaugh

Boston Globe: The Ticket: What’s happening in the local arts world

"BOSTON PHILHARMONIC The Dutch violinist Liza Ferschtman makes her local debut with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto under the direction of Benjamin Zander, who also leads Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. Nov. 14 and 17 in Sanders Theatre; Nov. 16 in Jordan Hall. 617-236-0999,"-Jeremy Eichler

Arts Fuse: Concert Review: Boston Philharmonic plays Mozart, Brahms, and Bartók

"Throughout, the ensemble and Deljavan exhibited a lively rapport, the pair responding to and bouncing off of one another with energy and delicacy. Afterwards, the pianist rewarded a lusty ovation with a pair of encores: the “Aria” from Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Frederic Chopin’s Mazurka op. 17 no. 4." -Jonathan Blumhofer

Boston Musical Intelligencer: Zander Summons and Supports Deljavan

"The Philharmonic achieved rigorous success throughout under Zander’s direction and performed with outstanding verve in the colorful Bartok concerto."-Michael Johnson

The Boston Globe: For Boston Philharmonic, a satisfying start to the 2019-20 season

"Leading an orchestra with considerably more strings than Mozart was accustomed to, Zander gave admirable clarity to the opera buffa fugue sections and propulsion to the whole."-Jeffrey Gantz

Boston Classical Review: Pianist Deljavan makes Boston debut in triumphant Philharmonic season opener

"Sporting his trademark fingerless black gloves, Deljavan from the opening cadenza onward played with clarity, relentless charge and a generous ear." -Andrew Sammut

Boston Magazine: Things to Do This Weekend in Boston

Boston Globe: The Weekender: SpongeBob sings, Almodóvar returns, and Holzer takes over

"GET YOUR PHIL: If you haven’t experienced Benjamin Zander helming your experience of classical music, listen to his TED Talk on its “transformative power,” and then watch him lead the Boston Philharmonic through a program of Mozart (Overture to “The Magic Flute”), Brahms (Piano Concerto No. 2, featuring the spellbinding Italian pianist Alessandro Deljavan), and Bartok (Concerto for Orchestra) this weekend at Jordan Hall (on Saturday evening) and at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre (on Sunday afternoon). And get there early to hear Zander’s lucid and elucidating introduction to the program, which will be like getting fit with a fresh pair of ears. Find full program info and tickets here. (And hear former Globe chief critic Richard Dyer discuss the “incredible ear and imagination” of Deljavan here.)" -Michael Andor Brodeur

Boston Globe: The Ticket: What’s happening in the local arts world

"BOSTON PHILHARMONIC Pianist Alessandro Deljavan makes his Boston debut with Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2, under the baton of Benjamin Zander. Program also includes Mozart’s appealing overture to “The Magic Flute” and Bartók’s heady “Concerto for Orchestra.” Oct. 17-20. Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, Cambridge (Oct. 17 and 20); Jordan Hall (Oct. 19). 617-236-0999," -Zoe Madonna

Boston Musical Intelligencer: BPO Introduces Pianist in BPC2

Article by Richard Dyer about Alessandro Deljavan, soloist for the BPO's first concert of the season.

Wicked Local Cambridge: Local conductor receives lifetime achievement award in South Africa

Benjamin Zander feature.

The Jewish Advocate: Zander Feted in South Africa

Benjamin Zander feature.

Boston Magazine: Boston Philharmonic Conductor Benjamin Zander Wins South African Lifetime Achievement Award

Benjamin Zander feature.

WBUR: Fall Arts Guide: The Classical Music Events Not To Miss This Fall In Boston

"Zander is also the conductor of the phenomenal Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Their fall concert features the extraordinary young Boston violinist Stefan Jackiw in the irresistible Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, on a program that also includes Verdi’s stirring Overture to "La Forza del Destino" and, a Zander specialty, Mahler’s haunting (and haunted) Symphony No. 1." -Lloyd Schwartz

2018-2019 season: 40 Year Anniversary Season

Boston Musical Intelligencer: BPO Couples Early-20th-Century Masters

"Zander, observing Mahler’s request to accelerate, got the exuberant humor of it, showing both the music and his orchestra at their best." -Jeffrey Gantz

Arts Fuse: Concert Music Review: The Boston Philharmonic plays Ives and Mahler

"This performance of Ives’ Third was the most welcome entry in the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra’s celebratory season – a beautifully considered, powerfully rendered account of this too-neglected score. " -Jonathan Blumhofer

Boston Classical Review: Rare Ives and epic Mahler from Zander, Boston Philharmonic

"for Mahler enthusiasts, Boston has no better advocate than Zander." -Aaron Keebaugh

Boston Musical Intelligencer: Noted by the Conductor

Article by Benjamin Zander.

Benjamin Zander: The Mystery of Music is Still Alive at 80

Feature article on Benjamin Zander.

Associated Press: Can't stop won't stop: Famous conductor's show goes on

Feature article on Benjamin Zander.

Arts Fuse: Boston Philharmonic Plays Beethoven

"By any measure, this is an impressive orchestra, as technically accomplished as any number of professional ensembles, domestic and international." -Jonathan Blumhofer

Boston Classical Review: Fast and gripping, Zander, Boston Philharmonic bring fresh spirit to familiar Beethoven

"From the outset, with the famous opening four-note theme, Zander’s touch carved out something entirely individual yet inevitably familiar given the material...The whisper of Zander and the Boston Philharmonic can be as exciting as their roar...This was the Boston Philharmonic at their biggest and most balanced, from timpanis down to piccolo. A packed house responded with a five-minute standing ovation, including whistles for each of the sections and multiple curtain calls for Zander." – Andrew Sammut

Wicked Local: Winter Arts Preview Here's the cure for cabin fever

"Long renowned for his groundbreaking interpretations of Beethoven, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra founder and conductor Benjamin Zander burnishes that legend with three all-Beethoven programs, Feb. 14 and 17 at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, and Feb. 16 at Jordan Hall in Boston. " -Nancy Olesin

WBUR Winter Preview: Here's What's On Tap In The Classical Music World This Winter

"Zander has a history of bringing old chestnuts to fresh life, especially when he uses Beethoven’s notoriously faster metronome markings" - Lloyd Schwartz, WBUR

Arts Fuse Concert Review: Boston Philharmonic plays Ginastera, Ravel, and Strauss

Boston Musical Intelligencer: Romping Promenade From BPO

"Every moment felt secure and right under Zander’s leadership...I commend Zander and the BPO (in its 40th year) on their exhilarating promenade through three mutually informing pieces which blended exhilaration and introspection to well-judged effect. Fun but demanding this must have been for the players!" – Lee Eisman

Arts Fuse: Concert Review: Boston Philharmonic plays Ginastera, Ravel, and Strauss

"Throughout the concert, Zander’s direction combined attention to detail with grand, well-defined gestures...Zander also spoke about the music between pieces and conducted excerpts with the excitement of someone playing these works for the first time." – Andrew Sammut

Boston Classical Review: Zander, Boston Philharmonic celebrate with Ginastera, Ravel and Strauss

Boston Globe: With energy, emotion Boston Philharmonic follows Benjamin Zander's lead

"Zander and his orchestra strove for maximum impact. To that, it really feels like “his” orchestra. It’s tough to imagine what the Philharmonic would be without Zander, who celebrates both 40 years with the orchestra and 80 years on Earth this season. Not only does he know the music, he knows the musicians" –Zoe Madonna

Boston Musical Intelligencer: BPO Opens 40th Season

Boston Classical Review: Boston Philharmonic puts focus back on the music in thrilling season opener

Celebrating 40 Years of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra



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