embraces his musical life with an open heart and an open mind. His early training as an accomplished oboist and tenor established a strong classical foundation upon which he has laid his expansive musical imagination. He is an eager learner, thanks to his parents exposing him to all kinds of music.
Messiah sings and close harmony sessions with his family led to playing the roles of Amahl in “Amahl in the Night Visitors” and later Curly in “Oklahoma”. He sang tenor in Carmina Burana and Mozart’s Requiem while playing oboe in the Western Massachusetts Young Peoples Symphony. He won their concerto completion and performed Sibelius’ “The Swan of Tounela” on English horn. These high school experiences led him to conservatory at Northwestern University where he studied with Ray Still, principle oboist of the Chicago Symphony. While with the Northwestern University Chorus, he auditioned for, and joined, Basically Bach of Chicago (his first professional work as a singer). Being from a family of social scientists, he quickly became interested in ethnomusicology. Before graduating he studied voice, nagasvaram and mridangam while exploring Karnatic music in Madurai, South India. He also discovered the guitar and song writing with college classmates Michael Kroll, Peter Stuart and Sarah Hummon Stevens. The quartet recorded a demo with multiple Grammy- winning Nashville song writer Marcus Hummon.
In the mid-nineties Ben recorded two albums with acclaimed producer/engineer Cookie Marenco while exploring all avenues of music with the likes of Eric Drew Feldman, Tony Trischka, Mike Marshall, Brain, Todd Phillips, Art Lande, David Grier, Garry Brown, Tim O’Brien, Rob Ickes, Peter Rowan, and Sally Van Meter. He formed the band Sugarbeat with Tony Furtado, Matt Flinner, and Sally Truitt. They won the band contest at the Telluride Blugrass Festival which released their first album on Blue Planet Music. Hear Music released his first solo effort “Thirty Degrees”. After collaborating with David Chalfant (The Nields, Erin McKeown, and Steven Kellogg) on his second solo album “Jack of Fools” (Compass Records 2000), two more band efforts with New England newgrass favorites Northern Lights “New Moon” and “One Day” (Fifty Fifty Music, 2005, 2008) with Jonathan Edwards after numerous appearances with the legendary Vassar Clements. Ben has since co-written several songs with Grammy award winning song writer Lori McKenna, and Ashley Gearing, along with Catie Curtis, Louise Taylor and Jenna Lindbo. Ben continues to sing, write, record and perform internationally drawing on experiences from his interest in all music.
While building on his career, Ben also grew as an educator through public and independent education as a director of music and arts department chair. He did graduate work at Wesleyan University and Carleton College, completing his masters in music at the University of Massachusetts. Along the way he studied West African music through Ewe drumming and dance in Ghana as part of an intensive immersion course. He’s conducted performances of Schubert’s Mass in G and the Vivaldi Gloria while bringing internationally acclaimed artists (Shanghai Quartet, Wu Man, Roomful of Teeth, The Creole Choir of Cuba, Rokia Traore, Michael Barnett and Joey Santiago of the Pixies) to work with students on campus. Ben still listens to classical music during the morning and everything else from jazz to old favorites Prince and Peter Gabriel. An accomplished guitarist and bassist, Ben truly enjoys collaborating with young musicians and can often be seen accompanying and helping to record their projects. And he still loves playing the oboe and singing for any ensemble in need.