Born in Kyoto, Japan and spending his earliest years there and in Virginia, Benjamin Taylor moved to Santa Rosa, California at age nine. After participating in every niche of the music program at Santa Rosa High School, he graduated early and spent two years training his voice and musicianship with Curtis Sprenger and Mark Anderman. During these years, Benjamin also explored jazz and performed in experimental rock bands as a bassist, singer, and songwriter.
In 1997, Benjamin left Santa Rosa for Cleveland, Ohio where he would study at the Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory. At the Conservatory, he found several new and important mentors. James Feldman’s lectures and insights in music theory and form were tremendously formative. The rigorous demands of Warren Scharf honed Benjamin’s ear and practical skill to a new and impressive level. At the same time, Benjamin was gaining a quick reputation for vigorous participation in the composition forum, where Loris Ohannes Chobanian presided over discussions of music composition. At the conservatory, Benjamin quickly seized every chance for study and doggedly pursued any opportunity to have his music performed.
But singing in the college choir proved less than satisfying, and soon Benjamin was looking for different possibilities. Recruited by his counterpoint professor, Lisa Rainsong, for his fine tenor voice and consummate musicianship, Benjamin joined several professional choirs in Cleveland almost simultaneously: Old Stone Singers, St. John the Evangelist Cathedral Choir, Choir of the Immaculate Conception, and with other adventurous singers he helped to found the medieval quartet Concorditas.
In 2000, Benjamin completed his degree at the Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory with a series of stellar works performed at the Conservatory and around the city of Cleveland. His graduation piece, a chamber opera on his own libretto entitled The Half-Dead Tree, was received to great praise. His Dance for Orchestra was also premiered that year, by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony under the baton of legendary conductor, Edwin London.
Benjamin next spent two years in graduate study at Cleveland State University, studying organ with Margaret Rickerd Scharf and music history with Judith Eckelmeyer. His primary studies, however, continued to be composition. His principal teachers during this time were Andrew Rindfleisch and Eric Ziolek, though interactions with John Howell Morrison and Gregory D’Alessio were also instructive. During this period the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, under the direction of Andrew Rindfleisch, would perform Benjamin’s latest works three more times: the Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orchestra was premiered by pianist Mark George; Organic Music no. 1; and Elegy for trumpet, harp and strings was given its premiere with masterful solo performances by John Brndiar, trumpet, and Jocelyn Chang, harp.
Benjamin survived as a freelance musician during these years, singing all over the city and writing program notes for such prestigious institutions as the Cleveland Museum of Art. At the same time, his largest work to date was in its gestation and coming to culmination. After a year of work, the Mass (written for choir, organ, cantor, priest and congregation) was given its premiere performance at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist by a stellar cast of Cleveland’s best professional church musicians. As a cantus firmus work, the Mass is musically cohesive, all its parts being in some way connected to the opening hymn tune. This massive undertaking was greeted with astonishment, awe and delight. Portions of the hour-long work were given repeat performances in concerts and Catholic masses in Cleveland.
Upon completing his MM at Cleveland State University in 2003, Benjamin returned home to Santa Rosa. Since that time, Benjamin has begun to carve himself a place in the more tranquil arts environment of Sonoma County. He currently is a member of the Sonoma County Chamber Singers and of the San Francisco Choral Artists. He serves as Youth Orchestras Manager for the Santa Rosa Symphony. His captivatingly personal brand of music is catching on with audiences throughout the North Bay region, and in addition to being Composer-in-Residence for the Sonoma County Chamber Singers, several upcoming performances around North America are in the works for this exciting young musician.
Benjamin lives in Santa Rosa. He is engaged to the beautiful Catherine Cvengros, Bachelor of Science in psychology from Baldwin-Wallace College, who is currently performing a two-year service as a United States Peace Corps volunteer in Martuni, Armenia.