Benjamin Boone knows how to get inside the poem, Phil Levine's inscrutable and imploding loops of poetics, his observations of the seen and unseen. Boone knows where the thing called poetry lives, an ocelot among the waters, a sky-shaped Rain God that flares down upon us. He does this with a myriad of instruments, with human breath chiseling and burning through brass and string, reeds and skin and hands and resin. He is one of the very few that can lure Phil's poetry-magic and call it out and show it to the world...Beyond words up there with the muses.
Benjamin Boone is a saxophonist, composer, and Professor of Music at California State University Fresno. He has served as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Ghana (2017-18) and a U.S. Fulbright Senior Specialist to the Republic of Moldova (2005). He grew up in the small textile town of Statesville, North Carolina, the youngest of five sons. "My brothers pursued history, literature, art and biology, so I have always gravitated towards interdisciplinary projects," he says. "I like to make artistic statements that address culturally relevant topics in a germane manner."
A respected composer in both new music and jazz circles, his Origin Records release The Poetry of Jazz, a collaboration with the late U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize recipient Philip Levine, was recognized as a milestone poetry/music project immediately upon its release in March 2018. Praised in leading musical and literary publications, featured on NPR's "All Things Considered," voted the #3 "Best Album of 2018" in DownBeat Magazine's annual Readers Poll (just behind Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis), and an Editor's Pick in The Paris Review, The Poetry of Jazz established Boone as one of the most captivating and compelling voices among contemporary artists exploring the intersections between poetry and music. Just this September, NPR's Terry Gross referenced Boone and this recording on NPR's "Fresh Air."
While in Ghana as a Fulbright Scholar (2017-18), Boone co-founded the new music ensemble The New Global Ensemble, comprised of traditional Ghanaian xylophonist Aaron Bebbe Sukura, traditional Ghanaian singer and drummer Baffour Awuah Kyerematen, and long-time collaborator German electro-acoustic violinist Stefan Poetzsch. This ensemble unites traditional Ghanaian music/instruments with 21st century Western new music. Boone also collaborated with The Ghana Jazz Collective on the album "Joy," which will be released on Origin Records on March 20, 2020. "Ghana's music and culture transformed me musically and personally," said Boone in a Fresno State article. "Music is part of the fabric of life and everyone participates and has a role. It's a beautifully communal way of thinking and being. Accra has an amazing music scene, with every type of music you can image, including a vibrant avant-garde scene."
As a classical composer, Boone's compositions have been performed in 35 countries, appear on 28 recordings, and have been the subject of several National NPR and Bayerischer Rundfunk (German Radio) stories. The past several years Boone has focused on writing music that addresses relevant cultural and environmental issues, music that aspires to speak to listeners on a level that touches their soul and instigates a greater sense of empathy and understanding. His ethnohistorical opera Ascencion, about Native American cultural genocide, co-written with Helene Joesph Weill, was featured on NPR's "Weekend Edition Saturday," and his orchestral work Waterless Music: A Drought Symphony, premiered at Los Angeles' Disney Hall, was featured on NPR's "Here and Now." His compositions are published by Latham Music, Lorenz, Alry Publications, Sentinel Dome, Eighth Note Publications (Canada), GPG Music, and VR Music.
Boone's music has received awards and honors from the International Society of Contemporary Music, the Olympia International Prize for Composition, Billboard Magazine, the National Association of Composers, ASCAP Morton Gould Award, Meet the Composer/Southeastern Arts Federation, the National Flute Association, the Southeastern Composers' League, the Delius Foundation, and Boston University, among others. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, The U.S. Department of State, the United States Information Service, Fundación Valpara'so (Spain), the Aspen Music Festival Center for Compositional Studies/Advanced Master Class Program, a U.S. Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Travel Grant, A*deVantgarde Festival für Nueue Musik, Munich/Office of the American Consulate, The American Music Center, New Music USA, the American Composer's Forum, California State University, the North Carolina Arts Council Composition Fellowship, and the Tennessee Arts Commission Composition Fellowship.
For more information about Benjamin Boone, please visit: http://www.benjaminboone.net/.