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New England Conservatory Conductor Says He Was Fired

The conductor who left the nation's oldest independent music school in Boston says he was fired for hiring a convicted sex offender to videotape the rehearsals and performances of young students.

Benjamin Zander, director and conductor of the New England Conservatory's Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, tells The Boston Globe he was fired Thursday for hiring Peter Benjamin.

Zander defended the hire, saying Benjamin served his time following a conviction involving a minor nearly 20 years ago, and there have never been any accusations of misconduct in the 10 years he worked as a videographer for the school.

Zander has released the following statement:

This termination comes as a terrible shock to me and I plan to communicate directly with my students and their families. Right now I am getting my thoughts together. I do want to emphasize categorically that I would never knowingly do anything that would in any way put my students in harm’s way. I am grateful for the outpouring of support I am receiving from students, families, and members of the music community around the country. I have had a wonderful, rewarding career with the New England Conservatory. I am deeply sorry that it has ended this way. I have been privileged to help nurture the careers of so many gifted and dedicated students during the past 45 years.

Benjamin is listed as a Level 2 sex offender by the state, meaning he is considered a moderate risk to re-offend.

Zander also is a Boston Philharmonic Orchestra conductor.

The videographer has been banned.

This program aired on January 13, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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