Not since Leonard Bernstein has there been an advocate of the transformational power of music as skilful as Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. His TED Talk has been viewed millions of times, and his masterclasses awaken new passions in students, and a magnetic engagement with all his audiences. As keynote speaker for the Southeast Asian Music Academy Online, he has chosen the topic of “Open to Possibility!” – and what better time for this than now, when we face the duelling constraints of a pandemic, but the open landscape of new opportunities for music and teaching. Come, and be inspired, as so many have already, and gain a new energy as we forge forward in musical adventures.

Note: At 11:30am, participants will break out into groups to discuss about the topic.


Benjamin Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. He is also a guest conductor with orchestras around the world and is a three-time Grammy nominee. For the past 50 years, Zander has occupied a unique place as a master teacher, deeply insightful and probing interpreter, and as a profound source of inspiration for audiences, students, professional musicians, corporate leaders, and politicians around the world. He has persistently engaged well-informed musical and public intellectuals in a quest for insight and understanding into the western musical canon and the underlying spiritual, social, and political issues that inspired its creation.

His performances have inspired thousands of musicians, renewed their sense of idealism, and shed fresh, insightful, and sometimes provocative light on the interpretation of the central symphonic repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries. Critics and the public have been united in their praise of Zander’s interpretations of the central repertory.

Zander enjoys an international career as a speaker on leadership, with several keynote speeches at the Davos World Economic Forum, where he was presented with the Crystal Award for “Outstanding Contributions in the Arts and International Relations.” The best-selling book, The Art of Possibility, co-authored with leading psychotherapist Rosamund Zander, has been translated into nineteen languages. In 2019, Zander was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the ABSA Achievement Awards in Johannesburg in recognition of his contributions in the spheres of Music, Culture and Leadership. This is the first time that the award has been given to a non-South African. Previous recipients of the Award include Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu. Zander’s TED talk on The Transformative Power of Classical Music has been seen by over 15 million people.