Benjamin Cornelius-Bates, MM, AD, FAGO, grew up in Alaska, but did not study the organ until he attended the University of Montana, Missoula. There he studied with Dr. Nancy Cooper and earned a BM in Organ Performance. After moving to Vancouver, British Columbia with his wife, Benjamin studied organ with Rachel Alflatt and composition with her husband Denis Bédard. Benjamin earned his MM in Sacred Music from Duquesne University in 2009 and an Artist’s Diploma in 2011 studying under Dr. Ann Labounsky, emphasizing improvisation. He is at Duquesne University as an adjunct professor in Organ and Sacred Music, as well as organist and Director of Music Ministries at St. Paul of the Cross Monastery, and Composer in Residence at First Lutheran Church. Currently, Benjamin is pursuing a Doctorate in Music Composition at West Virginia University, studying with Dr. Joseph Dangerfield and Dr. Matthew Heap, where he taught Music Theory and Composition.
As a composer, Benjamin, has had his compositions played throughout the world, including the United States, Canada, France, England, Italy, and Germany. His piece, Fête, was a finalist in the 2012 Kansas City AGO Composition Competition. The First Readings Project in Minneapolis, Minnesota premiered the choral work, Ave Maris Stella, in May 2015. Benjamin was commissioned by Carson Coomanin in 2015 to write the work, Fantasia primi toni, for organ. And in 2018, the American Guild of Organists National Convention in Kansas City, a new major work will be premiered.
As an improviser, he was a semi-finalist at the 2011 André Marchal International Improvisation Competition held in Biarritz, France, was invited to the 2013 Arthur Piechler Improvisation Competition held in Landau, Germany, and was a semi-finalist in the University of Michigan Improvisation Competition in 2015. His music and improvisations can be seen on this blog and on his Youtube channel.