Benjamin T. Berman is the music director of First Reformed Church of New Brunswick. He is also the conductor of the Highland Park Community Chorus and artistic director of the brand new Hub City Opera and Dance Company. He received his MM in Vocal Performance in 2012 from Mason Gross School of the Arts under soprano Judith Nicosia. While at Rutgers, he coached for two years with Barbara González-Palmer, and sang in six opera productions under the direction of Pamela Gilmore. He received a BM, summa cum laude, in 2010 from MGSA, studying under tenor Frederick Urrey. He also studied organ with Mark Trautman, and is a harpsichordist for the Period Instrument Ensemble, La Fiocco, with artistic director Lewis Baratz. Ben is active as a recitalist, voice teacher, harpsichordist, and organist in Central New Jersey. He also conducted the Rainbow Children’s Choir, which he started alongside Cantor Anna Ott in January 2011. And currently he co-director of the Joyful Noise choir, the joint children’s choir of Christ Church New Brunswick and First Reformed Church.
Benjamin, a light lyric tenor, is particularly interested in Song of the Czech Republic, Jewish art music, and the song cycles of Jules Massenet, in addition to the standard repertoire for solo tenor. He was a semi-finalist in the 2015 International Czech Slovak Voice Competition. He is an avid recitalist and is well-suited to perform the Lieder of Franz Schubert, and he loves singing Gershwin. In the realm of opera, Benjamin is at his best in Mozart’s roles, in particular Don Ottavio and Pedrillo. He has portrayed Monostatos from Die Zauberflöte, Alfred from Die Fledermaus and Frantz from Les Contes d’Hoffmann.
In the summer of 2017 Benjamin was honored to join the ranks of the Opera Philadelphia chorus, for a groundbreaking world premiere of David Hertzberg’s opera The Wake World, which was staged at the Barnes Foundation. It was an extremely moving performance to be a part of, and it was one of the most fantastically innovative highlights of the festival #017.
On recent recitals, he has sung Tel jour telle nuit by Francis Poulenc, Die Schöne Müllerin by Franz Schubert, the cycle A Shropshire Lad by George Butterworth, Three Yiddish Songs by Viktor Ullmann, An die ferne Geliebte by Ludwig van Beethoven, Hermit Songs by Samuel Barber, and Canticle I by Benjamin Britten. He has received much praise for his musically and poetically sensitive performances.
In 2016, Benjamin participated in the Moravian Master Class in Náměšť nad Oslavou, Czech Republic. The concentration of this program is largely Czech repertoire (including Dvořák, Janáček, Martinů, and Kaprálová), and also Mahler and others who are part of an important Central European tradition. He studied there with with Mirka Zemanová, language coach; Timothy Cheek, coach and pianist; and Magdaléna Blahušiaková, voice teacher. For his work on, and performance of, the music of Vítězslava Kaprálová, Benjamin was recognized on the Kaprálová Society website. For more information on this program, visit http://moravianmasterclass.com/.
In August of 2012, Benjamin attended Lied Austria International in Gamlitz. While in this program he focused intensely on the performance of art song from German and Austria, both as a singer and as an accompanist. The goals of this program are to cultivate, expand and refine one’s voice by re-enforcing healthy singing habits, to make expressive use of words by learning to release the power of texts, and to productively play with a limitless array of movements, weights and colors as one makes music. For more information on LAI, please visit www.liedaustria.com.
Benjamin is an active and enthusiastic member of the group La Fiocco as a harpsichordist, organist, and virginalist. He also maintains and performs on the Mersenne harpsichord that belongs to First Reformed Church. An advocate for and specialist in early music, he seeks to inject Baroque and Renaissance style into his conducting and private teaching work as possible.
In the summer of 2017 he attended the Amherst Early Music Festival in New London, CT. He worked with Arthur Haas and Peter Sykes and met many other friends and connections at this wonderful program.
He works as a freelance harpsichordist, tunes harpsichords, plays continuo, and also loves to perform solo recitals.
An enterprising student, Benjamin simultaneously organized, conducted, and played the harpsichord at three performances of cantatas by J. S. Bach (BWV 62, BWV 80, and BWV 180). He completed these projects as the music peer minister for Rutgers Protestant Campus Ministries from 2007-2012. Since then he has enjoyed conducting choirs both from the podium and from the harpsichord. And in April 2018 he will make his debut conducting an opera at Mason Gross School of the Arts.
Benjamin is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the New York Singing Teachers Association, for whom he is currently serving a second term as a board member, The American Choral Directors Association, and the College Music Society. Recently, in participation with NYSTA pedagogy seminars, he sang in a masterclass with Professor Jeffrey Gall.