Eric Benjamin’s earliest experiences with music still motivate him: Grieg’s “In the hall of the mountain king” as heard in a sixth grade music class in his native St. Albans, Vermont. “I was transported from the mundane world of a classroom in a school in Vermont to a cave in Norway. It was mystery and power, communicated in a magical language of rhythms, pitches and timbres.”
After earning a master’s degree in orchestral conducting at New England Conservatory, Eric joined the faculty of Newton (MA) North High School where he taught music theory and music appreciation, coached chamber music and conducted the orchestra. He was on the conducting staff of the Akron Symphony and director of the Akron Youth Symphony for 11 years, and appeared as guest conductor with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Erie Philharmonic, Canton Symphony, Columbus Symphony and numerous student festivals. He also became music director of the Tuscarawas Philharmonic, a position he still holds. He recently served as director of Instrumental Ensembles at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Eric is currently the Music Director of the Alliance Symphony and on the faculty of the University of Mount Union.
Eric was the host and producer of the award-winning radio show “Klassical Kids,” a program for young people about classical music airing on WCLV Cleveland at 104.9 FM. The program won first prize for excellence in education awarded by Fine Arts Radio International. As a composer and arranger, Benjamin has produced a catalog of varied works for orchestra, chorus and soloists. Gift of the Magi is an operatic treatment of the O.Henry short story classic. In 2000, Eric was named Composer of the Year by the Ohio Music Teachers Association.
Teaching is one of his passions. “I love to engineer interactions between music and young people. The challenge and joy for a music teacher is to connect up the intellectual, technical and scholarly aspects of music study with the electrical current that runs through the student and makes her want to study music in the first place.”