Like many young piano students, Ben hated to practice. Its repetitive nature bored him, and he fought constantly with his parents and piano instructors on the topic. Luckily, his parents won that battle, and the lessons continued, leading to school band, church bands, show choir and a garage band. He started arranging and composing for piano and for tuba in his free time and was often found to play the piano until his hands could take no more. Inspired by one of his high school band directors, he chose to make his passion his career.
As soon as he arrived at Doane College, Dr. Jay W. Gilbert asked him to arrange a tune for their pep band. This was the first of a handful of pep band tunes he would arrange for the band, and the relationship with the music department continues today, having most recently adapted Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols for their annual Christmas Festival.
Ben completed his first wind ensemble piece, Variations of Grace, in the fall of 2005 and shared it with Dr. Gilbert. Dr. Gilbert agreed to rehearse it with the college’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble and it was soon programmed for October, 2005 – his first public performance of an original composition. S.W.E. would play four more of his compositions before he graduated in 2008 with a degree in music education.
From college Ben was hired as director of 5-12 bands at Fillmore Central Public Schools in Geneva, Nebraska. Since then his duties have expanded to include high school choir, show choir, and an introductory web design class (and for a brief while, yearbook – exciting, I know). This has afforded him the opportunity to not only compose for his ensembles, but also with them.
Each year the FCHS bands compose short melodies that Ben adapts to become that year’s Symphonic Composition Project. Each song is named by the band that wrote it:
- Meizhou Bao
- Balli, Balli, Balli!
- The Bacon March (Yankee Doodle Delicious)
- Dance of Lucifer
- Red Tide
- The Rock
*The band originally titled this “It’s 7/8 Somewhere”
Ben continues to compose, both for his own ensembles and others. Recent work includes custom pep band and drumline arrangements, custom choral arrangements, and combined SATB choir and wind ensemble arrangements well-known Christmas carols.
Aside from school, Ben accompanies the chancel choir at Geneva United Methodist Church, where he is active in many facets of the music ministry. He has worked extensively with The Colonel Mustard Amateur Attic Theatre Company on their summer musicals. For two years he played in the orchestra, also writing a song for “Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman The Musical.” For the last three years he has conducted the shows’ orchestras, and composed most of the score for 2014’s “Spiderman: The Musical: The Musical:.”
He lives in Geneva with his wife Liz and often perfect children Rosemary and Philip, where there is never a shortage of singing, laughter, Legos or bacon.