Benjamin Scheer (b. 1993) is an American composer of chamber and symphonic works. Ben had his first commission in 2013 from the New Haven Symphony Orchestra to write a concert piece, ART Dances, honoring his former mentor, Augusta Read Thomas. He has written more than 40 works for chamber groups, solo instruments, wind ensemble, symphony orchestra, electronics, and voice.
Ben is fond of the ideals of Romanticism, and the idea of projecting these elements through a contemporary tonal language is what drives his composition. He is committed to preserving and enhancing the powerful orchestrations of the early 20th century, and hopes to unite musical ideas of the present with their heritage. His most recent project is a symphonic interpretation of the five-part masterpiece, Course of Empire, by the American painter, Thomas Cole.
Ben has collaborated with a broad and diverse group of visionaries such as concert musicians, chamber groups, vocalists, conductors, ballet dancers, William Blake scholars, and even architects. While at the illustrious American Academy of Art at Fontainebleau, he provided musical support for multimedia installations in collaboration with the architects.
He has written music with some of the most unlikely inspirations. His fast-paced, aggressive 2016 wind ensemble piece, Latrodectus, was his approach of confronting his fear of spiders. His 2015 setting of the William Blake poem, A Poison Tree began as a recital request from his soprano friend. This resulted in a close study in Romantic poetry, and a collaboration with an English literature scholar. In his 2015 symphonic poem, Narcissus, Ben used set theory with lush orchestration to create a dramatic interpretation of the radiant myth of Echo and Narcissus.
Although Ben is predominantly an acoustic composer, software is a crucial tool for his study of other repertoire, as well as for his film and multimedia composition. Inspired by scoring film clips, he collaborated with a ballet dancer, and scored a video of which she choreographed.
Born and raised outside of New Haven, CT, Ben began compositional studies with Augusta Read Thomas. He then studied composition at the Eastman School of Music with Robert Morris, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon and David Liptak. Ben earned his Masters in composition at the New England Conservatory of Music with Michael Gandolfi. He is currently in the Doctor of Musical Arts Program at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.
He also studied composition at renowned summer festivals that include the Bowdoin International Music Festival, the Atlantic Music Festival, and composition fellowships at the Tanglewood Music Center and the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau. Ben's first orchestral commission, ART Dances was praised as "this surprise sonorous gift, he made full use of all the resources the NHSO had gathered for Thursday’s concert", and his next orchestral work, Narcissus was selected runner-up for the 2017 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute.
Ben is also passionate about teaching. At NEC, he worked as a graduate teaching assistant for the theory department, teaching undergraduate keyboard harmony. He has also guest lectured for an advanced undergraduate analysis course, for which he designed and taught a full lecture on the “Liebestod” from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Ben is a faculty member at the Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts where he teaches theory and composition.
Ben continues to be stimulated by his love of fine art, coffee, and chess. In addition to his first language English, Ben also speaks French and German.