2021-2022: 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY SEASON

  • Ode To A Grecian Turn

    "Zander pridefully introduced Georgian Alexander Korsantia as one of today’s great pianists and a master in particular of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. “Think of it as Classical music with wrong notes,” he averred. After a quiet start with the clarinets, burbling strings induced the pianist to get right to work with rapid scalar passages. Korsantia gave no quarter in the fast and loud passages, but at other times contented himself to fade into the textures as another color instrument. Zander managed the extremes of dynamics, from many ps to turbulent, brutal, onrushing outbursts with many fs. Lyric refinement came as clarinetist Alexander Ehrlich-Herzog soared." -Lee Eisman
  • Blazing night of Russian music benefits Ukraine war relief with Boston Phil Youth Orchestra

    "To be sure, the BPYO has been one of the most consistently impressive and musically satisfying groups in town this past decade. This season was no exception. Though comprised mainly of teenagers, it’s an orchestra whose collective professionalism belies its membership’s juvenescence. What’s more, the players typically bring a sense of excitement, discovery, and intentionality to their performances that, in turn, enlivens even the most familiar repertoire." -Jonathan Blumhofer, Boston Classical Review

  • WGBH: A benefit concert for children in Ukraine and its geopolitical playlist: interview with Benjamin Zander
    “For a young orchestra, they open up their souls and their emotional pores in a way that they are unlikely to do in the environment of home and school,” he said. “So it's a liberating experience and it's an unforgettable experience. I meet people 20 years after they have been in this orchestra, the previous one, and they tell me that the tour was the thing, that that was the thing that changed their lives, and they'll never forget it.” -Benjamin Zander
  • WGBH: The May Drop from a knockout opera to a knocked out Shakespere"The Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra goes on tour every year. In 2022, they were slated to visit Russia, and then a war happened. The youth talent have since set their sights on Greece, but for now, under the direction of Benjamin Zander, they'll be presenting a concert featuring a program of Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and Prokofiev, for the benefit of Ukraine relief."
  • Boston Herald: Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra’s concert aims to score win for Ukraine relief“It seems very fitting for this moment to play music that is very deep and full of extremely powerful emotions played by young people,” Zander told the Herald ahead of the concert...The BPYO itself seems to hold itself in protest — protest against expectations, fate, a society that often appears to not value complex, enriching art. Through a decade, the makeup of the symphony has become more diverse than most major professional symphonies. Its repertoire defies the idea that young people can’t play intensely challenging works. Its leader, at 83 years old, revels in championing the talents of kids just out of elementary school." -Jed Gottlieb
  • WBUR: 10 Classical concerts to enjoy this spring
    "Benjamin Zander, director of the Boston Philharmonic and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, has announced that “the Boston Philharmonic stands in solidarity with Ukraine. All ticket sales from this concert will be donated to the Ukraine Tensions: No Child Forgotten program to assist some of Ukraine's most vulnerable children suffering from Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.” This meaningful program of Russian music begins both ironically and with a wish for the future, Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture,” followed by Georgian pianist Alexander Korsantia playing Prokofiev’s fiendishly difficult and exhilarating Third Piano Concerto and ends with Tchaikovsky’s tragic “Pathétique” Symphony."  -Lloyd Schwartz

Ukraine's anthem is known as "Shche ne Vmerla Ukrainy i slava, i volia," which translates to "Glory and Freedom of Ukraine has not yet Perished." The lyrics are derived from a patriotic poem by Pavlo Chubynsky.

The orchestra also closed with Shostakovich's 5th Symphony, which they say has served as a symbol of power and protest."

  • The Boston Musical Intelligencer: War, Terror...and Yes, Uplift
    "On Sunday, moreover, Zander’s very moderate starting tempo undercut any thoughts of festivity, suggesting instead the people’s slow trudge. The second-subject trumpet solo (Jon-Michael Taylor) broke through the orchestra’s stranglehold; the shimmering horn solo that ushers in the development seemed to belong to a different time and place. This took us, inexorably, to another magic celesta moment before the march returned. Zander’s slow pace clarified Shostakovich’s reason for putting the final metronome mark in quavers: he wanted us to hear every individual eighth note, right down to the coda, where, under timpani bashing in fourths (Shostakovich must have had the Mahler Third in mind), one note, an A, is repeated 252 times. In Zander’s final pages, this was the note of the people, the protest of the people, the resistance of the people, their ownership of the music." -Jeffrey Gantz    
          
  • Boston Classical Review: Elgar, Ravel, Shostakovich works imbued with resonance by Zander, Boston Phil Youth Orchestra
    "The BPYO’s three-dimensional, purposeful reading was less played through than lived out...for all its mighty exclamations, this Shostakovich Five thrived on moments of quiet and delicacy. Its exposed woodwind exchanges unwound tenderly. The Largo’s fragile episodes were gripping for their intensity; its last bars provided fleeting, shimmering catharsis...The result was a performance of riveting focus and, especially over the finale’s insistent final pages, soaring, singing defiance." -Jonathan Blumhofer

  • Boston Musical Intelligencer: Zander and BPYO Thrive in Demanding Concert

"The evening concluded with many minutes of applause and exuberant stomping from the stage and house, and too many curtain calls to count, making the energy and optimism in the air palpable. A year’s worth of preparation for something without any certainty of realization had not been in vain, and hope for the future not only endured, but also thrived." -Nathaniel Eiseman, Boston Musical Intelligencer

"as gripping and natural a Mahler Fourth as I’ve ever heard. The first movement was both disciplined and flexible, with seamless exchanges between its numerous themes. In the second, the music’s sheer weirdness came over bracingly – thanks, in no small part, to concertmaster Eric Chen’s sneeringly characterful scordatura solos. The gorgeous third was spacious and serene, and never lacked for concentration: Zander’s handling of the shifts of character between each variation were perfectly unaffected; and the movement’s rich climaxes were contrasted by playing of astonishing tonal presence." -Jonathan Blumhofer, Boston Classical Review

2019-2020 Season

Jonathan Blumhofer reviews the BPYO's concert and live stream: "The BPYO was in particularly fine fettle in Berlioz’s harrowing “dramatic symphony.” Inspired by the composer’s obsession with the actress Harriett Smithson, the Symphonie famously depicts a love-addled artist on an opium trip that culminates with him murdering his beloved and being tormented by her (and a coven of witches) in hell. Thursday’s performance captured its ardent twists and turns vigorously. Tempos in the opening “Visions and Passions” were flexible, dynamics carefully balanced, and textures – even at the busy apex of the movement’s recapitulation – lucid."

Vance R. Koven writes about the live stream of the BPYO concert and live stream in general.

"in the right hands even a group of talented kids can give us the best Mahler of the year." -Lloyd Schwartz

"If there were an award for performances of standard fare played with fresh purpose and zest this fall, the Boston Philharmonic would have won it: their canonical October and November concerts teemed with energy, brilliance, color, and – above all – elemental life force...Of course, the common denominator between both groups is Benjamin Zander, who remains as spry, enthusiastic, and intellectually engaged a conductor as ever, even when he’s conducting pieces we’ve all heard countless times." -Jonathan Blumhofer

"Hearing this contingent for the first time, and, believe or not, Zander for the first time, I can attest as a satisfied listener and critic that much of the execution reached completely professional levels" -Crawford Best

"Once again Zander had drawn out the very best from these young players, and a delighted crowd in Symphony Hall made its gratitude seen and heard." -Jeremy Eichler

"Wonderful, then, and I'd also give an unqualified thumbs up to another, very different live performance from Benjamin Zander’s implausibly well-drilled Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. More volatile and unpredictable, the players’ energy is totally convincing." -Graham Rickson

BPYO Tour to Brazil.

Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra plays Strauss, Mendelssohn, and Mahler (November 24)

Boston’s best classical ensemble of 2019 (according to Boston Magazine – and I’m not about to argue with that assessment) returns to action with music by Mahler and Verdi framing a performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. The brilliant fiddler Stefan Jackiw is soloist in the latter. -Jonathan Blumhofer

2018-2019 season

Article about the Northeastern students who performed in the BPYO for the Brazil Tour. Article by Irvin Zhang.

About the BPYO Brazil Tour by Jonathan Blumhofer.

"Rising from the insuppressible enthusiasm of maestro Benjamin Zander—who founded the (senior) Boston Philharmonic Orchestra 40 years ago—this ensemble of fantastically talented 12- to 21-year-olds delivers exactly what you want from a night at the orchestra: to be blown away. Whether playing the notoriously difficult Mahler (one of the maestro’s specialties) or another canonical composer, they deliver youthful energy and just a touch of wonder." -Boston Magazine

BPYO Brazil Tour Review by Jonathan Blumhofer.

Mahler 6 Album review by John Quinn.

"One could not hope for brighter, more attractive and hope-inspiring emissaries from the America we hold dear. They can serve with certainty to summon our better angels." -Lee Eisman

Radio feature of the BPYO.

"there was no want of love in the orchestra’s playing, or in the interpretations of BPYO founder and conductor Benjamin Zander." -Jeffrey Gantz

"Surely, this is an orchestra that plays at a level rivalling top-flight ensembles. And, in Zander, they’ve got a dynamic conductor who’s both an inspiring teacher and experienced Mahlerian." -Jonathan Blumhofer

"This account of Mahler’s Ninth is a formidable achievement and all the more so when one considers that it is given by young musicians and that it is a live performance. It’s not just the technical accomplishment that has impressed me, however; it’s also the orchestra’s engagement with the music and their commitment. The performance is conducted superbly by Benjamin Zander and if his excellent booklet notes don’t convince you that he has thought deeply about the symphony then listening to his interpretation of it will do so. I can only say that each time I’ve listened to this performance I’ve been gripped by it from start to finish." -John Quinn

"If the idea of a youth orchestra tackling a work as deep and profound as Mahler's Symphony No. 9 appears incongruous, don't be deceived: under the unerring stewardship of Benjamin Zander (b. 1939), the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (founded by the conductor in 2012 and comprising 120 musicians ranging in age from twelve to twenty-one) delivers a mature performance that's not just credible but superb." – Ron Schepper

"Benjamin Zander’s 80th birthday celebration this season has, so far, resulted in some fine and, last weekend, revelatory performances by his Boston Philharmonic and Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (BPYO)." - Jonathan Blumhofer

"Playing with the kind of presence and passion you'd normally only expect from Euro versions of ensembles like this, the AFM needs to step up to make sure kids like this never have to take day jobs in order to keep the music alive. Just glorious." – Chris Spector

"For all of you who thought that the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, when it was conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, was just the berries as a young musical aggregation, you need to hear this recording. It’s really an impressive achievement." -Lynn Bayley

There was an elegiac quality to the BPYO’s spring season finale: the program was both a commemoration of the end of World War 1 and a farewell to the ensemble’s graduating members. And its inclusion of Ives’ visionary The Unanswered Question served as a memorial for guest conductor John Heiss’s son, Frank, who had died unexpectedly a few weeks earlier. The latter, given the full spatial treatment – string aureoles emanating from the lobby in Sanders Theater framing a solo trumpet up in the balcony and a quartet of flutes onstage – was this packed year’s unforgettable moment. Full review here. -Jonathan Blumhofer

"But listening to the overall enthusiasm and energy on display, I began to think that “Youth” in an orchestra’s name should be a positive." – Jeffrey Gantz

"Without question, this BPYO rendition of Shostakovich Ten was one of the most urgent and necessary of any symphonic score I’ve heard all year." – Jonathan Blumhofer

"The BPYO is way more than just a youth orchestra: it’s a world-class ensemble that happens to be made up (mostly) of teenagers. They return to action for the new season the Sunday after Thanksgiving with Anna Federova playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto no. 2 and music director Zander conducting further works by Carl Maria von Weber and Dmitri Shostakovich."  -Jonathan Blumhofer

2017

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