Triumph of The Human Spirit
03/11/23 at 08:00pm
Benjamin Wallfisch studied conducting in London with Sir Charles Mackerras and Vernon Handley and in Germany with Bruno Weil. He was awarded First Prize in the 2001 British Reserve Insurance Conducting Competition with a unanimous vote from both Jury and Orchestra. At the age of 22, he was appointed Associate Conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra and between 2003 and 2005 was Assistant Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. During this time he assisted Vladimir Ashkenazy, Valery Gergiev, Edo de Waart and Leonard Slatkin and frequently conducted the NRPO in venues including the Concertgebouw, De Doelen Rotterdam and the Muziekcentrum Vredenburg, Utrecht and in numerous studio recordings. In 2013 he took up the position of Music Director of the Crested Butte Music Festival of Colorado, US.
In the UK, Benjamin has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra and City of London Sinfonia and has performed in venues such as the Barbican, Cadogan Hall, Royal Festival Hall and St. George’s Bristol. In 2005 he made his Australian debut conducting the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in a series of critically acclaimed live broadcast Gala performances at the Sydney Opera House, and in 2009 he made his debut conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. Other guest conducting highlights have included the Bavarian Radio Philharmonic, Orchestre de Bretagne, Tivoli Symphony Orchestra, and an appearance in the 2007 Mecklenburg Festival with the Weimar Staatskapelle.
Highlights of recent seasons he has conducted the Hamburg Symphony (three times, including their annual New Year performances of Beethoven 9), Zagreb Philharmonic, Netherlands Symphony and RTÉ Concert Orchestras. He has also worked with the SWR Stuttgart Radio Symphony, Bournemouth Symphony, Slovakian Philharmonic and Helsingborg Symphony Orchestras, and conducted the orchestra of the Beethoven Academy Krakow as part of Poland’s prestigious Beethoven Easter Festival, and the Prague Philharmonia the Dvorak Prague Festival. In the US he has worked with great success with the Monterey Symphony and the North Carolina Symphony. The 12/13 season saw Benjamin make his debuts with the Los Angeles Chamber and London Philharmonic Orchestras, and return to the Helsingborg Symphony and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Future higlights include his debut with the Sønderjyllands Symfoniorkester of Denmark, and a return visit to the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Acclaimed by The Strad as “one of the finest accompanists anywhere on the podium”, Benjamin has performed concerti with some of the world's finest soloists in including Evelyn Glennie, Pekka Kuusisto, Freddy Kempf, Dame Felicity Lott, Branford Marsalis, Igor Oistrakh, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and John Williams. Alongside a number of his own orchestral works, he has recorded Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto with Ruth Palmer and the Philharmonia, a disc of bassoon concerti with Karen Geoghegan and the Orchestra of Opera North for Chandos, and concerto recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra and the English Chamber Orchestra.
Benjamin's work in film music to date spans 10 years, 45 movies and has earned him multiple international awards and nominations, including an Ivor Novello Award Nomination for Best Original Film Score 2009 (for Rupert Wyatt's "The Escapist"), a nomination in the 2009 Emmy® Awards and nominations as 'Discovery of The Year' in the 2005, 2008 and 2013 World Soundtrack Awards. His recent score for "Summer in February" was released on Deutsche Grammophon to international critical acclaim and was recently awarded ‘Best Score - Special Feature’ in the 2013 Hollywood Music in Media Awards. Other recent features include the Lionsgate thriller "Hours"; the Viking saga thriller from Vertigo Films, "Hammer of the Gods"; the Relativity Media drama "Desert Dancer"; and the BBC original movie "The Thirteenth Tale", produced by David Heyman ("Gravity", "Harry Potter") adapted for television by Academy Award-winning writer Christopher Hampton ("Atonement"), directed by James Kent ("The White Queen"), and starring Vanessa Redgrave. Benjamin was recently invited by Academy Award winning composer Hans Zimmer to contribute additional music to his score for Steve McQueen’s universally acclaimed feature "12 Years a Slave".
Wallfisch is also known for orchestrating and conducting Dario Marianelli's Oscar® and Golden Globe® winning score for "Atonement" and the Oscar® and Golden Globe® nominated score for "Anna Karenina". He has also worked as sole orchestrator on numerous other studio pictures such as "Pride and Prejudice" (Oscar® nominated, Best Original Score 2006), "V for Vendetta", "The Soloist", "Eat Pray Love" and "Jane Eyre". He composed additional music for Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood" and went on to arrange the music for the acclaimed feature documentary "Life in a Day", produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin MacDonald.
Benjamin began composing at the age of 10 and since 1996 has received over 50 commissions for the concert hall, ballet and theatre. He made his BBC Proms debut in 2006 conducting the world première of Escape Velocity, the fourth work composed under his ongoing tenure as Associate Composer of the Orchestra of St. John’s. He has also written for the BBC Singers, Bath International Festival of Music, Belcea Quartet, Goldberg Ensemble, Hallé Orchestra, Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, and the Manchester Camerata, and his music has been performed at venues including the Barbican, Berlin Philharmonie, Sadler’s Wells, Bridgewater Hall, Cadogan Hall, Royal Opera House Linbury Theatre, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and Classic FM. In 2003 he was commissioned by the Rambert Dance Company to compose an electroacoustic ballet score for award-winning choreographer Rafael Bonachela. Recent concert commissions include major orchestral works for the London Philharmonic Orchestra and a Violin Concerto commissioned by the LA Chamber Orchestra. He signed an exclusive publishing agreement with Edition Peters in August 2006.
Born in London in 1979, Benjamin was awarded the Master of Music degree with Distinction in composition from the Royal Academy of Music and is the first composer in the Academy’s history to be awarded its highest graduate accolade, the Honorary Diploma of the Academy. Benjamin was the recipient of every Academy composition prize including the Theodore Holland Intercollegiate Prize and the Performing Right Society Foundation Scholarship. He graduated from the Joint Course of the Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Manchester with First Class Honours and his composition teachers have included Anthony Gilbert, Michael Finnissy, James MacMillan and Robert Saxton.