The St. Andrews Arts Council, Inc. has announced the winner of the 2019 St. Andrews Arts Council Next Gen Performing Artist Award as Canadian cellist, Benjamin Marmen.
Mr. Marmen will be soloing with the St. Andrews Festival Orchestra at the St. Andrews Gala Festival Concert on August 17, 2019 at the KIRA Amphitheatre at Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada.
The St. Andrews Next Gen Performing Artist Award Is presented annually to an emerging instrumental performing artist, 15-30 years old. Winners receive a cash award and an opportunity to further their careers and educational opportunities by performing with the St. Andrews Festival Orchestra, Hok Kwan, conductor, at the St. Andrews Arts Council Gala Festival Concert, in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. Candidates for the award are chosen upon the recommendations of teachers/conductors and submitted audition materials with final selection of the winner determined by Maestro Kwan and members of the search committee.
A small-town boy out of Grand Bay-Westfield, NB, Benjamin Marmen began cello lessons at age seven with Sonja Adams in Saint John. Throughout high school he performed with Symphony New Brunswick, the Early Music Studio Saint John and was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada (2008). He also served as principal cellist of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra (2008-9) and the St. Andrews Festival Orchestra (2009/2011).
In 2010 Benjamin moved to Halifax to study at Dalhousie University with Shimon Walt, under whose mentorship he completed his Bachelor of Music (Performance) degree in 2014. While at Dalhousie he was principal cellist with the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, placed 1st and 2nd in chamber music at the National Finals of the Federation of Canadian Music Festivals and won the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra Competition.
As a participant in summer programs at Le Domaine Forget, Scotia Festival, and the National Arts Centre’s prestigious Young Artist Program, Benjamin studied with eminent cellists Lynn Harrell, Philippe Muller, Hans Jørgen Jensen, Denise Djokic, Paul Marleyn, Blair Lofgren, and Thomas Wiebe.
During his undergraduate studies, Benjamin performed as a soloist with the Dalhousie University orchestra, as well as two other local orchestras, Chebucto Symphony Orchestra and Nova Sinfonia, and enjoyed the opportunity to play chamber music with various ensembles – among others, Scotia Festival’s “Chamber Players,” Quartet LaCorde, and Symphony Nova Scotia. Since graduating, he continues to collaborate regularly with local chamber musicians, and occasionally as a soloist, such as in more recent appearances with SNS and the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra.
Benjamin has been a member of Symphony Nova Scotia since 2014.
Away from the classical stage, Benjamin has performed and/or recorded with Natalie MacMaster, guitarist Maxim Cormier, and singer-songwriter Mo Kenney. He has played on film soundtracks by Blain Morris, Josh Cruddas and director Dillon Garland.
Through his interest in new music and improvisation and thanks to suddenlyLISTEN and Upstream Music Association, he was involved in improvised concerts by Montreal’s Musique Actuelle, and has played in workshops with composers and improvisers such as Danielle Palardy Roger, Jean Derome, and Joëlle Léandre.
When he’s not playing music, Benjamin enjoys spending time with his wonderful wife, Lydia (also a cellist) and his three-year-old son, Felix, reading, and getting more involved in his home church in Halifax.