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Benjamin Ellin

October 17th, 2023 | 3 min read

By admin

Award-winning and critically acclaimed British conductor and composer Benjamin Ellin is currently co-founder and Musical Director of De Mowbray Music, Music Director of the Thursford Christmas Spectacular, co-founder, conductor and composer of the contemporary-fusion ensemble Tafahum, Principal Conductor of the Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra and President of Pembroke Academy of Music, London. Benjamin is also a founding trustee of the Evgeny Svetlanov Charitable Trust.

His belief in the positive power of music within society is reflected in the wide-ranging projects of which he is currently a major figurehead. Ellin’s belief in a musical world without boundaries is equalled by a tireless commitment as a guest artist and as a Music Director. This is illustrated by his ongoing work in North Yorkshire through the De Mowbray Music Festival in Thirsk, his contemporary-fusion ensemble Tafahum, opera festivals and performances across the UK including Focus Opera (2007 – 2015), a wide commitment to outreach and development work as well as curating projects and collaborations with leading ensembles across the globe. From 2006-2010 Benjamin was also Music Director of Pembroke Academy of Music in London, which provides vital musical education and opportunities to the young members of the Walworth community.

His 2023-24 season includes tours of China, seminal collaborative performances with the pioneering rock band John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest and the Slaithwaite Philharmonic, full seasons of performances at Thursford and in Huddersfield with the Slaithwaite Philharmonic and the continued development of his work with De Mowbray Music. Benjamin will also be continuing to work on two new major composition projects, due to be released in 2024.

In recent seasons Benjamin has performed with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Jena Philharmonic, Orchestre de Picardie, Hulencourt Soloists Chamber Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Orchestre National de Lille, Shanghai Opera House Orchestra, Gunma Symphony Orchestra (Japan), St Petersburg Symphony, Orchestre National de Montpellier, Teatro Massimo Palermo, Orchestra del Teatro Regio Turin, Russian State Symphony Orchestra, New Russian Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre Chambre de Catalogne and the Luxembourg Philharmonic amongst others.

As a composer Benjamin’s work has been performed all over the world; in the concert hall, theatre and for the screen. Recent highlights have included his oratorio, ONE BEFORE ZERO, commissioned and premiered by the Orchestre de Picardie in 2016, as part of the centenary commemorations for the Battle of the Somme. Following performances in France it has also been performed in Slovakia and Germany under Benjamin’s direction: "…In addition to the two soloists and the boys' choir, it was above all the composer who made the great tension of his oratorio audible on the podium of the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra and allowed everyone involved to play with such intensity that the tension was transmitted to the audience. Benjamin Ellin's oratorio is able to move the hearts of the listeners and keep alive the memory of the traumatic conditions of the war. The warmth and cordiality with which Benjamin Ellin's oratorio was received speaks for the openness of the Jena audience…." (Dietmar Ebert. 11/18, Jena).

In 2020 Benjamin received the first British commission for a bass trombone concerto from Opera North. ‘Gresley’ was subsequently premiered by bass trombonist Christian Jones and Opera North in October 2021 and formed part of a major album release alongside other major works for trombone by Benjamin in 2023. The album, Windows, which features soloists Joseph Alessi, Blair Sinclair and Christian Jones was reviewed as “Melodically appealing, harmonically adventurous, rhythmically exciting and brilliantly orchestrated. Probably my disc of the year so far and it will be a hard one to beat.” Paul RW Jackson, British Music Society.

In 2022 Benjamin was commissioned by the Evgeny Svetlanov Conducting Competition to compose a symphony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the passing of Svetlanov himself. Ellin’s Symphony No. 1 was premiered under Dmitri Jurowski in 2022 in Moscow to great acclaim while his Sinfonia No. 1 was performed at the Royal Opera House in London with the Royal Ballet School in 2017 as part of their Summer Showcase. Benjamin’s Violin Sonata has already been commercially recorded and released twice by different artists and his Violin Concerto MIYABI was premiered by the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. Benjamin has received several commissions for works inspired by the history and culture of First Nation communities of Alberta, with whom he enjoys a close relationship, by long-time collaborator and esteemed violist Rivka Golani.

A multiple award winner, Benjamin was a laureate and was awarded the Public Prize from the inaugural Evgeny Svetlanov International Conducting Competition in 2007. In September 2009 Benjamin was awarded the Barlow Endowment Prize for composition, becoming only the second British composer in twenty-five years to be awarded the prize. The New York Philharmonic’s Principal Trombonist, Joseph Alessi, premiered his subsequent commission for a trombone concerto in April 2012 in the USA. Benjamin’s debut composition CD, Three States at Play, was released in Spring 2012 to critical acclaim. Tafahum’s debut album ‘Osmosis’, featuring almost all Benjamin’s own compositions, was released to critical acclaim in April 2016; "...beguilingly scored and intelligently structured…the music constantly evolves. Magical."

(Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, April 2016)