The inaugural Outside The Box festival is dedicated to Maestro Charles Ansbacher, whose vision and musical accomplishments have helped further Boston’s reputation as a world-class cultural destination through his creation of the beloved Boston Landmarks Orchestra and the Free for All Concert Fund.
Born in Providence, RI, Ansbacher took up cello as a boy and began his long musical career by conducting a Mahler piece with his high school orchestra. After undergraduate and graduate work at Brown University and the University of Cincinnati, he studied conducting at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. Ansbacher was the conductor and musical director of the Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestra from 1970 to 1989, held titled positions with orchestras in Boston, Moscow, Bishkek and Sarajevo, was the first American conductor to appear with the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra in 2008 and the Vietnamese National Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi. He also conducted the first-ever symphony orchestra concert in Boston’s historic Fenway Park. In 2000, with the simple mission to make classical music available to all Bostonians through free, innovative performances, Ansbacher created the Boston Landmarks Orchestra which he viewed as a gift to his home community.
In 2010 the Orchestra’s total audience – from families to students, professionals to “New Bostonians” – was more than 100,000. Rather than stopping with the development of the orchestra, Ansbacher created an independent foundation to give grants to organizations. This became the Free for All Concert Fund which was created to guarantee the presentation of high-quality music in perpetuity.
Longtime Ansbacher family friend David Gergen, director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and a senior political analyst for CNN, summed up Ansbacher’s contribution to Boston perfectly: “Even as he traveled the world for farewell concerts – Sarajevo, Beirut, Chisinau, Hanoi – he kept his focus on his dream for Boston. He created the Free For All Concert Fund, setting a goal of $20 million – enough to provide permanent support for outdoor orchestral concerts and related cultural events free and friendly to families across the city.”
Maestro Charles Ansbacher passed away on September 12, 2010, leaving Boston his gift of music with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra and the Free for All Concert Fund. Throughout his career Ansbacher maintained a simple philosophy – concerts should be accessible to all. This philosophy touched Outside The Box founder Ted Cutler so much that he decided to build an entire festival around it.