“I realized that my job is to awaken possibility in others.”

BPYO - Rehearsal 3, 4, 5 - White Sheets

Benjamin Zander Center
Discussions — November 17, 2020

Oct. 9, 2020

Hi Mr. Zander, 

Sorry for my late response! 

I’ve really been enjoying the assignments! They are a real mental lifeline during these times, what with the coronavirus and being in the thick of recording for prescreenings… 

And I wasn’t really sure what/how the rehearsal commitment would be like, but I’m actually finding talking about interpretation is really helpful, especially when we all get caught up in playing technically perfectly and not focusing on carving away at the pillar of sound that’s put in front of us to make our individual works of art. I don’t think the commitment is too much at all at the moment! 

I would love to play in one of the upcoming rehearsals! 

Something which I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, with all these mentions of phrasing and “one-buttock playing” is this whole idea of the “pillar of sound”. Aside from viola, I have been very interested in the theremin for a while now – hoping to explore that further once college auditions are over. (Though sadly I don’t have one and haven’t had the chance to actually play one… yet… ) The way it’s played, with the whole idea of carving away that the sound that’s already there rather than creating the sound, has seemed to be a really helpful metaphor in thinking about how to phrase while I’m playing viola… 

(And yes, I recently found a few rehearsal clips of the BPO playing Icarus by Lera Auerbach back in 2016!! That was pretty incredible… I’m sorry I missed that!!)

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow! 

All best



Oct. 10, 2020

Hi Mr. Zander,

Thank you!! The “mini-workshop” on the Beethoven excerpt last week was very insightful, and I really enjoyed playing it last weekend. My workload from school has gotten a little intense lately, and the BPYO zoom rehearsals are becoming a stress-free highlight of my week. I’m really looking forward to today’s meeting as well!




Oct. 10, 2020

Hi Mr. Zander, 

I am really enjoying the weekly BPYO zoom sessions. I know I mentioned this in a past email, but these Saturday rehearsals are becoming a highlight of my week, and I am so thankful that I get the opportunity to just delve into music for hours and not have to worry about anything else. My school zoom meetings have become very tedious and tiring, however your enthusiasm and passion make BPYO zoom meetings so different from school. I know that this is a new experience for all of us, and I just wanted to let you know that you are doing an unbelievably great job leading these weekly zoom sessions. You mentioned today that as much as you love the positive feedback, you would also appreciate any “negative” feedback; I think the one thing that could be beneficial is to not get stuck on one topic, and keep the flow of the meeting – it was very interesting to look at Beethovens’s 5th from a conductor’s viewpoint today, but it can sometimes be challenging to study a dense score for a long period of time over zoom. Other than that, I genuinely mean it when I say that online BPYO rehearsals have been a great success so far, and I have enjoyed every single moment of it. I am looking forward to next week’s rehearsal as well!




Oct. 11, 2020

I’m sorry I missed your call last night, I was out with some friends. I loved our meeting yesterday! And from what I perceived, so did everyone else. I was following along the whole time with my own score. It was really fascinating, you brought up a lot of points that I hadn’t even thought of before. I this will be a particularly fun aspect of meetings going forward, it seems like everyone wants more of this. Some people were even suggesting specific pieces. I’m envisioning a sort of progression where we start with Beethoven, move to maybe the 9th, and work our way up to Mahler and Stravinsky scores. I think people would love that. Maybe we could even get to the point where people bring in their own ideas about pieces to present to the group. Like say you ask everyone to look at a Brahms symphony for the week and come up with interpretations and then we share the little details we’ve discovered. It could be a great way to get everyone engaged. I hope your final driveway concert goes well!



Oct. 16, 2020

Dear Maestro,

I enjoyed last Saturday’s class very much.  I have been trying to apply the system of the four bar phrase in everything that I play.  For example, while playing Bach’s Prelude from the Second Cello Suite in d minor, I saw that the first bar was heavy, the second bar was light, the third bar was heavy but lighter than the first, and the fourth bar was light.  This was very fascinating to me because this system naturally gave the structure to the prelude.  

I also enjoyed looking at your full scores of Beethoven’s 5th last week.  I loved watching what all of the parts were doing and I found it very interesting to see your markings on the page.  I really wish that we could see more of this in the classes with you.

Thank you very much.  Looking forward to seeing you soon.



Oct. 16, 2020


I am sending you this email at the end of a long night of studying, homework, and online exams. It is with my greatest condolences that I must say that turbulent events in my life have caused me to be in need informing you that I will be absent from this Saturday’s meeting. I know that we agreed that I would perform in the class, and I intend to do my best to fulfill my end of the agreement. Attached to this email, is a performance of Luciano Berio’s Sequenza X and Toru Takemitsu’s “Paths.” I recorded these difficult contemporary solo works in one take each, with no editing (except for the correction of a glitch in the Berio’s audio, and added reverb on the Takemitsu.) 

I will also include an analysis of the pieces, as to give my thoughts on the music to you and the orchestra. The Takemitsu is only 5-6 minutes long, and so it may be a better selection than the Berio (15 minutes.) 

Luciano Berio, Sequenza X: Click here.

Toru Takemitsu, Paths: Click here.

Also, here’s a rendition of Leonore 3, in case you would like to present an orchestral excerpt. (Skip the first 20 seconds!). Click here.



Sequenza X: To fully understand a work like Sequenza X, one must consider the identity of the composer. Luciano Berio was a composer who was known to embed pieces of his life into his music. In addition, one must also consider that Berio was an atheist, implying that his work is secular. In addition, Berio’s music broke many conventions. For example, in the third movement of “Sinfonia,” Berio embeds fragments from Debussy’s “La Mer,” Ravel’s “La Valse,” the Scherzo from Mahler’s Second Symphony, and a host of other works, that all overlap, or morph into each other. “Sinfonia”  is as “wild of a ride” that a piece can be, after all, it is almost as if the third movement of the Sinfonia can be used as a representation of the mental clutter that one may have on any given day. The Sinfonia being as disjointed and as wild as it is, makes sense given that Berio was also known to study the theatrical works of the likes of Samuel Beckett, who was a prominent absurdist playwright. 

Absurdism evolved from the avant garde movement known as “dadaism.” Dadaism was a movement that was born in the early 20th century, and is intended to be whimsical, nonsensical, liberating of artistic restrictions, and even capable of perplexing or even scaring the audience (depending on who the beholder of the art is.) Absurdism continues from the tradition of Dadaism, in that it intentionally attempts to break away from the conventions of that which came before it’s era. In addition, absurdist theater has a tendency to “break down” what theater was up until that point. After all, the absurdist school of thought includes thinkers and playwrights like Antonin Artaud, the father of what he called the “theatre of cruelty,” a form of absurdist theatre that was “cruel” due to it’s surreal tendencies that intentionally tried to arouse discomfort in the audience. Absurdist prolectivites can also be seen in the music of the 20th century to now, as there are no shortage of works that subvert the expectations of the audience, with Luciano Berio’s music being an exemplifying aspect of that notion. 

However, the idea of breaking free from conventions was not a new idea in the 20th century, for medieval composers like Philippe de Vitry, and Baroque composers like Claudio Monteverdi, also innovated. For example, Vitry is given much credit for his development of the Ars Nova treatise in the 1300’s, that helped to revolutionize early notational practices. On the other hand, Claudio Monteverdi innovated in the early baroque era, through his use of the Seconda Pratica, or the Stile moderno, in his madrigals, motets, and not to mention, operas like L’Orfeo, which revolutionized the musical artform up until that point. However, whether the innovator is a modern playwright, a baroque musician, etc, is of no consequence, since one thing that any innovative artist has in common with other artists, is the overall knowledge of what came before their time. In this way Berio was an artist in his life, for he had studied the works of Monteverdi, Bach, Absurdists, his contemporaries, and many others, in great detail, as Berio comes from all of those schools. 

Now that I have presented some information on Berio’s background, I will begin to explain what Berio is doing in “Sequenza X pour Tromba in Do y Pianoforte Risonante.” 

Sequenza X tackles a plethora of “extended techniques” on the trumpet, with those extended techniques being: Doodle Tongue, Valve tremolo, Hand stopping, and flutter tonguing (though flutter tonguing is not really an extended technique.) The piece begins with a D glissing up a minor third to F. This gesture is performed with a notated triplet being preceded by a D natural 32nd note. However, this gesture is a “jazz” gesture, and must be inflected as such, though Sequenza X is not a jazz piece (though it does toy with various techniques and inflections that have their origins in jazz.) Anyways, the Sequenza is essentially one big sequence. Berio uses fast short “bopped” notes as a means to abruptly interrupt phrases, pivot into a new phrase, end a phrase, or surprise the listener (one can see the absurdist elements at play.) In addition, Berio will sometimes have the soloist play into the piano, thus activating the resonance of the piano through the use of the sostenuto pedal and suspended keys (that are notated in the pianist’s score.) The resonance mostly serves only to create the “resonance timbre” or color in the room, which is a mystifying element. 

There are two “Pedal C#’s” in this piece. 

Berio explores the extended techniques by introducing them all separately, by juxtaposing them, and by combining them all at once in many different spots through the piece. (note, valve tremolo is performed through the rapid valve changes of notes that have alternate fingerings, as to create small shifts in the timbres. In addition, hand stopping was used in early music, as to alter pitch like a french horn, or to simply alter the timbre.) 

The entire piece is based on the 9 note pitch class set of: D, E, F, F#, G, G#, B natural, C, C#. This figure is frequently used in quick nonuplet gestures, though sometimes the order changes. The changes in the note orders can be explained simply by the fact that the centric pitch class of the entire piece is D natural, but being that this piece is sequential, it will progress through the sequence thus leading the listener to different destinations. (it is also common for Berio to create interesting gestures that function similarly to embellishing tones.) In addition, the pitch A is used sparingly in this piece, though A is present in the extended d minor chord (DFACE)  that is sustained by the piano resonance. The chord extension in the resonance further establishes an ethereal feeling to the work. 

Analysis of a trend in the development of the sequence:

The above figure is logical, because a climactic moment is marked on page 4, when Berio approaches G above staff by a diminished 5th, and then he returns to the same C# (the leading tone of D in tonal music (voice leading principles are still relevant in works that are not tonal,))  to then approach D above high C (twice) by a minor ninth. The piece, from this point on, slowly works it way back to where it started, a D natural to F natural minor third gesture. 



With the music theory and history out of the way, I will state my impressions of the piece. 

I feel that Sequenza X represents life. Ultimately, we all begin our lives as we are, and as life progresses, we experience happiness, sadness, jealousy, tragedy, anger, love, fear, and a plethora of other emotions (many of which we struggle to describe.) However, at the end of life, there is an end of life, as all things end. After all, in Camus’ absurdist play “The Myth of Sisyphus,” the idea of whether life is meaningful or not is explored. Ultimately, one will leave that play, unless they are too “put off” by it to contemplate it, understanding that the point of life is what we do with the time that we have. I feel that Sequenza X exemplifies the aforementioned philosophy, as one could represent the Pedal tones to represent the great failures of one’s life, whereas the D’s above C could represent one’s greatest victories. 

Sequenza X is beautiful, because it is a piece that anyone can interpret in any way that speaks to them. 



Toru Takemitsu was a self taught composer who worked within the western classical tradition, while also bringing in elements from his cultural background. Takemitsu was known for his control of colors, and this is on full display in Paths. 

In Paths, Takemitsu juxtaposes the Harmon mute with no stem, against the normal sound of the trumpet. In addition, the music which is based on both chromaticism and 4th relationships (melodic,) is capable of accomplishing a waning feeling. This feeling makes sense, as it was written “In Memoriam Witold Lutoslawski,” who was a prominent composer in his lifetime (during the same era!) With that being said, one must also consider the fact that Paths is a very poetic piece–representing both the different pathways that people take– and life and death. In this way, I feel that Paths represents both the discussion and emotions of those who have passed away, and those are living. I feel that the use of the harmon mute in this piece, represents Witold Lutoslawski as he passes on from the world of the living, whereas the unmuted trumpet, with bold brilliance of timbre in comparison, represents the living, and the emotions that the living may feel as they mourn Witold Lutoslawski’s passing. 




Oct. 16, 2020

Hi Mr. Zander, 

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to join BPYO sessions, it’s been a busy few weeks for me. I hope I haven’t fallen too behind, but I have been trying to catch up with the weekly letters and assignments. A few weeks ago, I had to take the SAT test and expected it to end around noon, in time for BPYO, but due to covid restrictions the whole testing experience took 7 hours and so I wasn’t able to make it. Last week, I spent my Saturday afternoon recording with my accompanist for an audition and competition, and unfortunately had to miss the zoom.

Whilst recording, I noticed that my understanding of the accompaniment part is very shallow, and this limited my own playing. I think it is because I never fully analyzed the score to see the purpose of certain passages the accompaniment plays, when they have the melody, etc. Quite frankly, I don’t think I know how to analyze these things, and it is something I hope to work on.

Since this year’s lessons are centered around deepening our understanding of music, I was wondering if you had any advice or plans to create a lesson around learning more about accompaniment. I think it would be a very useful skill to have, and maybe it can help us in orchestra repertoire too. Just a thought!

Hope to see you aboard the ship tomorrow,



Oct. 17, 2020

Dear Mr. Zander,

This week, as I busily work to juggle college applications, school, violin, and other activities, I have been thinking a lot about our assignment to “come from the power of a child”. Sometimes it is easy to get tired and lose focus on why we do the things we do. It can be tempting to fall into the downward spiral, especially as I stay mostly quarantined in my house. However, attending the live concert in your driveway this week was a life-infusing experience. Standing side by side with music-lovers of all ages as the fall breeze gently rolled by, the beautiful rendition of Dvorak by the BPO musicians delivered a pure dose of serotonin for me. At that moment, the pandemic that has beset us faded into the background. In fact, the quarantine made me even more appreciative of the concert than ever before. Appreciative of the opportunity to share in this musical experience with everyone and to be uplifted by the music in these tough times. I think it is fair to say that the performance was a powerful reminder for me that no matter what the virus has taken away from us, it cannot take away beauty, emotions, and human connection.

As I listened, I found myself turning into my 5-year-old self who had just begun to play the violin. I remembered the boundless energy and excitement that I felt when I listened to the CD of the Berlin Philharmonic that my parents played before dinner. That’s when I realized that to enjoy music like a child, that is, to simply feel it and to allow yourself to be fully affected by the melody, is one of the best experiences in the world and one that must be passionately pursued. I also realized that the child-like ability to live fully through music and to be curious about music is also one that I have already been applying to other areas of my life.

“Coming from the power of the child” has been something I’ve actively practiced in my high school years. Instead of simply going for a good grade or learning just to prepare for tests, the lesson of “living in the world of possibility” has informed my academic career. This semester, while analyzing Ovid’s Metamorphoses and learning comparative politics, I have been actively engaging with the material to find ways to apply them to everyday life/current events. Moreover, I have allowed myself to be led by a deep curiosity about these subject matters, and to let the inner child inside me explore different ideas. To ask questions about the ideal method of governance that serves all in my Comparative Politics class and to be immersed in the possibilities of Roman myths in my Latin class.

This semester, I have also been embarking on another journey of exploration: college applications. As I write essays to share my story with potential colleges, I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on how best to let them know who I am. Beyond essays and recommendation letters from my academic teachers, I am given the option by Harvard University to include an additional letter of recommendation from someone who knows me in a non-academic capacity. Specifically, I need someone who can speak to my outlook of possibility on life and to my potential as a communicator/leader. As my conductor and someone who has inspired me to always create opportunities where there wasn’t any and to always look for ways to serve those around me, I am wondering if you might be willing to write a strong letter of recommendation for me. It would truly mean a lot. Thank you so much and see you tomorrow!




Oct. 17, 2020

Dear Mr. Zander,

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to play in BPYO. I have really learned so much from the lectures, and I only wish we could make music together. Something I found really interesting from your lectures was the “heavy” vs “light” demonstration. This has really opened my eyes to how music can be interpreted in many different ways, and has helped me with my individual practicing. 

I’d also like to ask your permission to quote you in my college essay. The story you told me about your dad, who told you about how musicians are in the healing business really resonated with me, and I feel like it is something that has connected with me on a personal level. Would this be ok to do?

I hope you’re doing well, and I’ll see you virtually for rehearsal today!



Oct. 17, 2020

Dear Mr. Zander,

Your talk today reminded me a lot of the way that dancers think about music. Almost no matter what, they think of music in bars of 4, with the same “heavy-light-somewhat heavy-light” you’ve been talking about. For music in 4/4, they count in bars of 8. When for bars of 3, they think of it in 1, and emphasize the expanse and phrasing of it. Even in mixed meter, the idea of “heavy-light-heavy-light” runs the choreography and the feeling of the music. Dancers figure this out almost intuitively, and we could learn a lot from them.

I just found this idea very interesting.

Thank you,



Oct. 21, 2020

Hi Maestro Zander,

Yes! I have been trying to incorporate what we have discussed with four-bar phrasing into my teaching. I have explained to my students that four-bar phrases are much like four-beat measures; there is a strong beat on 1 and 3, and a weaker beat on 2 and 4. My older student has been working on an etude that has a great deal of four-bar phrasing, so I have been demonstrating the concept for her and having her play it back. We frequently break this down into just the downbeats of each measure, or other smaller concepts. This has helped her gain a better understanding of phrasing. It has been harder to do with my younger student, because she is still struggling to remember how to play the notes. Although I think that teaching musicality from an early age is crucial, it is hard to do when the notes do not quite exist yet. I have tried to apply the concept of four-bar phrasing to the music she is working on, but it can be tricky. Perhaps I will find some slightly easier pieces for her where there are fewer notes to remember, but there can be an emphasis on the phrasing. I plan to try some of your coaching methods, and I am trying to figure out how to make this work over Zoom.

Thank you,



Oct. 23, 2020

Dear Maestro,

Last week’s class was very fascinating.  I really liked watching members of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra play the Archduke Trio.  It was surprising to me that it sounded so much better when the players did not grow the music as the notes rose.  They went against their natural instincts to make surprises happen.  I noticed this week, because of your assignment to do something that surprises us, that we tend to also go on our days doing what is routine, until we don’t.  It is then, that magic can happen, just like it did with the trio.  

I look forward to seeing you and the other members tomorrow to go on more musical adventures and have more surprises.

With gratitude,



Oct. 24, 2020


Dear Mr. Zander, 

Thank you for the zoom ‘rehearsals’; I have been enjoying them greatly. I am playing piano in a piano trio this semester, and I’ve found that the conducting insight has helped me be a better leader and collaborator, and convey the Mozart piece with more musicality. Here’s a short story that I wanted to share from 2 weeks ago: 

My roommate isn’t a classical musician. She is a talented dancer, and familiar with some classical music, however she had never heard Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.4. Two weeks ago, I was listening, with earbuds, as Daniel and Coleton played beautifully their excerpts of Tchaikovsky’s 4th, Movement 2, as my roommate diligently worked on a psychology paper in our room. I love this melancholy melody, and after they ended playing, I couldn’t help but keep humming the melody to myself. After a few minutes, my roommate leaned over and politely asked me if I could hum a little quieter so she could finish her essay. Obliging, I couldn’t help but feel a little offended- not towards my own humming, but to the piece- which I was sure she’d love if she heard it! I told myself that as soon as the zoom call ended I would do the piece justice by playing the second movement for her. However, I didn’t even have to initiate this: as soon as the rehearsal ended, my roommate asked what I’d been humming – telling me that it was so moving that it distracted her from finishing her essay that was due. I was baffled- earlier, I had been offended thinking that the piece hadn’t been given justice, but her response signaled that even a (rough and probably slightly out of tune) humming of Tchaikovsky’s grieving melodies could be transformative to a listener. Since then, we’ve played the movement of the symphony- multiple times, from the speaker in our room. And yesterday, I even heard her humming the melodies from the second movement. These are the ripples! 

In some other good news, Tufts updated it’s music policies; yesterday I played for the first time on campus since coming to school in September! 

Looking forward to later today, 



Oct. 24, 2020

Dear Mr. Zander, 

Thank you so much for such an informative class today – I learned so much from it! 

It was especially helpful for me to hear you play piano with Velleda (on the excerpt – I think that actually might be something that I might want to try as I practice excerpts, playing it on the piano and seeing how the four-bar phrases are going! Practicing excerpts is such a hard thing, with the part being completely out of context – sometimes I get so focused on the details that I can’t find any way to make it interesting. I feel like the way you turned a common excerpt into a beautiful piece of chamber music is going to be very helpful in bringing my excerpts to the next level!! (And I was so impressed with Velleda’s sound – she plays with so much passion and feeling!) 

Also – the Berio. I absolutely love that piece, now that I have had the chance to hear it! As a string player, I don’t normally listen to solo brass music, or Berio, for that matter, but I am very interested in exploring more pieces with extended techniques and new sounds. (I haven’t actually done much yet, but am looking forward to doing so in the future!) I was really impressed with Daniel’s playing – now I’m really curious how it sounds different with the pianist holding down the sustain pedal in the background. (And to see the score of that piece!) It’s made me much more curious about learning a piece by Berio myself in the future! 

Looking forward to seeing you in two weeks… 

All my best, 



Oct. 26, 2020

Hello Mr. Zander, 

I always enjoy an opportunity to perform the Sequenza! What an incredible work for trumpet that Berio wrote. In fact, I would go as far as saying that all of Berio’s Sequenza’s are some of the greatest solo works! I think that it’s great that I could introduce those who don’t know Berio, to Berio! 

I think that having members of the orchestra perform for each other is great! Speaking from my experience doing it, I can say that my level of excitement was tremendous! There is nothing like performing live, especially when it comes to performing the Berio. 

I do see performing in our sessions as a good opportunity to perform for non brass players. It would be great if more of the other students gave feedback! 

I think that the performances in the classes should be continued. Suggestion: It could be interesting to put together a recital video of student recorded performances of works that they wish to submit! 

I am having a good time! I feel that the information that you’re providing in these classes, is essential material for aspiring musicians to become familiar with! Also, know that I am grateful for your commitment to keeping BPYO alive during such trying times. Thank you!  




Oct. 29, 2020

Dear Mtro. Zander,

Recently, I’ve been telling some friends about what “shinning eyes” means and how beautiful of a concept it is, but I was struggling to find the light in my own eyes as I’ve been having some hard days because of some family and personal issues.

After we talked on Tuesday, I was looking for some music I could play for our group and I remembered this rendition that Edicson Ruiz did of a beautiful Venezuelan Waltz called “Natalia” (click here). After this, as I was getting ready for bed that day, I looked at the mirror and saw my eyes shining like a lighthouse. I remembered that music keeps us alive and will continue to do so. I also remembered that possibility is contagious!

Thank you for calling and caring, it’s made a great impact on me.




Oct. 30, 2020

Dear Mr. Zander,

I have been enjoying our weekly zoom meetings so much. Last week, hearing Velleda playing the Brahms excerpt and the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas was such an exciting learning experience and really inspired me. This week throughout my practice, I have been constantly thinking about shape and direction, and keeping her beautiful sound in my mind has made me want to strive to achieve that same amazing tone. 

I wanted to let you know how the concept of possibility has impacted me in these past few weeks. As you remember, I spent most of the year very sick, and have only recently started my journey to recovery. For several months, I was unable to play cello, and I felt as though I had lost my purpose. I was stuck in a downward spiral of feeling like I would never recover and that if I did, I would be too weak to sound any good. But then I slowly started to bring more and more thoughts about possibility into my mind, and how I could consider my illness as a fresh start and a reason to fight even harder to make music and do what I love. After I had this awakening where I chose to get out of the downward spiral, my life changed dramatically. I became much happier, much more motivated, and while I was and still am suffering from severe pain, I felt stronger. I went from struggling to get out of bed daily to going outside to feel the sun on my face and starting to practice again. I had not been taking many opportunities because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up or meet my expectations for myself, but I realized my excitement to learn outweighed my fear, and since starting to take opportunities as they come again I have learned more than I thought was possible in such a short time. I decided to seize an opportunity and join a pilot program run by the Curtis Institute of Music and I am now being mentored by a Curtis alumni weekly, and I have already made so much progress. I have never been so excited to learn!! I am now back into my cello studies fully, and planning on applying for conservatories this year, which I thought I would be unable to do because of my health. 

Living into the idea of possibility has made my life better. 

Acknowledging how the downward spiral has affected my thinking has been huge. Obviously, in practice, living without the downward spiral is difficult, but in these past few weeks I have learned that it’s possible. 

Thank you so much for bringing the ideas of possibility into my life!! I’m so excited to come back to BPYO next week, and I’m very hopeful that the world will have changed by then. 




Oct. 30, 2020

Hi Mr Zander,

I just heard from a friend that you’re in the hospital awaiting surgery. I hope you have a successful surgery and feel better soon! Here’s a funny classical music video I watched the other day to cheer me up: click here.




Nov. 4, 2020

Dear Mr. Zander,

I am very sorry to hear about your fall. I hope you are feeling better and remain in high spirits during your recovery. Having worked with you all these years I was hardly surprised to hear that you were discussing the Beethoven Sonata right out of surgery! I look forward to your interview on Saturday. It will be interesting to hear about your transition from cellist to conductor and about your experiences with Cassado.

Wishing you a speedy recovery!




Nov. 5, 2020

Maestro Zander,

My heart dropped when I heard about your injury yesterday. I’m so sorry, but feeling terribly grateful that your surgery went well. Wishing you a very speedy recovery so that you can get back to doing what you love, music!

I love the concept you mentioned in your last letter about a bow that “goes round the back.” That’s incredibly useful just to think as a concept when playing with a normal bow for pieces like the Brahms sonata. I’m learning the Tchaikovsky concerto right now and I’m going to incorporate that into my practice of the molto espressione sections. Thanks to you and your student!

Best regards always,



Nov. 5, 2020

Dear Mtro. Zander,

My family and I want to send you our very best wishes and the quickest recovery from your injury. 

You’ve given me such a great opportunity during the last couple of years and for that I’ll be forever grateful. I thought I would share with you some of the new opportunities I had last month regarding my near future/school.

Last month I had lessons with Tim Pitts and Paul Ellison at Rice, Joe Conyers at Juilliard, Todd Seeber, Tom VanDyck from the NEC bass studio, James VanDemark at Eastman. I also have been closely working with Edwin Barker (BU).

Prof. Ellison told me stories about you and also about prof. Churchill! He shared some great memories, I particularly enjoyed the one where he asked you for an indian restaurant recommendation in the UK.

I wanted to share with you that these teachers enjoyed my playing and gave me hope and great encouragement to apply for the schools. I couldn’t even think about applying for grad school right now if it wasn’t for your help. Words can’t express my family’s gratitude.

I’m looking forward to the interview this Saturday!

P.S I believe I sent you this recording of Edicson playing before but take a listen if you haven’t, it’s worth it. Click here.




Nov. 7, 2020

Dear Mr. Zander,

I felt as if I needed to send you this white sheet as soon as possible. 

I would be lying if I said the Zoom BPYO we just had today (11/7) did not leave me feeling like an emotional wreck. Your words and the way you described all your experiences from the past were so moving and inspirational; it made me yearn for those Saturday afternoons at BFIT playing music with all of the amazing musicians and people around me, not for the sake of preparing for the concert, but because we all genuinely wanted to be there to play and create an unforgettable musical experience every Saturday. Each week was a new journey and I have missed it so much these last 7 months. There is nothing in the world like live music, and there is nothing in the world like live music with BPYO. 

In the midst of my college application process to conservatory it has been very hard to balance playing the music I want to play and practicing my repertoire for recordings and auditions. I have always lacked this balance of practicing to progress and simply playing music for myself because music is what I love the most in life; however, as you said, practicing is usually motivated by an audition or a deadline. I wish it wasn’t so because there is a much deeper meaning to music than to just progress. Music is an expression of the soul and mind, and without it I would feel incomplete. It’s easy to get caught up in a daily practice regimen, but Saturday afternoons with BPYO were always a time to sit down, play, and just fully appreciate the amazing music coming from every musician in the room. 

I truly can’t describe what this orchestra has done for me, both as a musician and as a young individual, because as you said the effect that music has on us is quite impossible to explain. I know that just as you described all of your musical experiences as a young boy in Europe, I will just as easily look back fondly on my time with BPYO. My journey with music has turned my life upside down and a large part of that is thanks to you. I know that you are fully aware of how powerful music is to humanity, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for imparting even a fraction of your knowledge onto me. 

There are so many instances I could name from rehearsal to tours with the orchestra that shaped the way I view and value music today. The first time I even considered pursuing music as a career was after my first concert with the orchestra on Symphony Hall stage playing Prokfoiev’s Romeo and Juliet. I came back home from the concert and said to my mom, “Can you believe people do this as a job!?” My life was changed forever. Now, I am playing Prokofiev’s second violin concerto for my college applications. I won’t deny it, my mind was scrambled as a sophomore in high school, deciding whether or not I wanted to surrender the rest of my life to pursuing music as a profession, or if I just wanted to find a normal job outside of music. It took me a long time to realize that music was definitely the path for me, but looking back on it I don’t really understand how I was so torn. I cannot possibly think of living without music. The passion and emotions that are invoked whenever I pick up the violin are undeniable. Music has many forms and I can’t wait to explore all of them—especially with a new mindset in this orchestra of conductors!

It was a heartwarming experience listening to you speak today, even from the hospital bed! I was glad to see you in such high spirits and I hope you recover quickly!

With much love,



Nov. 7, 2020

Dear Mr. Zander,

The amount of raw emotion I feel right now is simply unreal. Hearing you and Mr. Coppock speak this afternoon moved me in a way that I have never experienced until now, and I am completely lost in terms of how to share with you what it means to me. 

For a while now, with college glistening on the horizon of my life, I have been desperately seeking the words and ways to express with myself and others, the significance/influence music has on me. These past few months have been filled with these types of grounding thoughts and speculations, and to hear your personal story today was one of the greatest experiences I could ever ask for. 

Despite my tears, I cannot imagine how you must feel, physically or emotionally, right now. Please know that you have transformed my life and so many of others to a degree that will take a lifetime to comprehend and offer a respectable amount of gratitude for you and BPYO.

I am wishing you a restful yet speedy recovery. Thank you.




Nov. 7, 2020

Hello Mr. Zander!

In response to the assignment this week to “share what you’ve discovered”, I just wanted to share a brief quote from The Art of Possibility that I found fascinating.

“Human eyes are selective too, though magnitudes more complex than those of the frog. We think we can see “everything,” until we remember that bees make out patterns written in ultraviolet light on flowers, and owls see in the dark. The senses of every species are fine-tuned to perceive information critical to their survival–dogs hear sounds above our range of hearing, insects pick up molecular traces emitted from potential mates acres away.”

This quote reminded me of the importance of perspective—we think we see everything, but really, we only see a tiny fraction of the “light” in the world (electromagnetic radiation), and only some of the color, and none of the fascinating things other species perceive on a daily basis. Biologically and emotionally, it is important to understand that every person “sees” things a little differently. I think your book does a great job (even in the first two chapters) of reminding us of that fact, and of the way these unique perspectives can combine to make a better world.

Thank you for taking us on this journey!

Hope you are feeling better,



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