Dr. Benjamin Cornelius-Bates, DMA, AD, FAGO, grew up in Alaska, but did not study the organ until he attended the University of Montana, Missoula in 2001. There, he studied with Dr. Nancy Cooper and earned a B.M. 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 M.M. in Sacred Music from Duquesne University in 2009 and an Artist Diploma in 2011, studying with Dr. Ann Labounsky, emphasizing improvisation. He is organist and Director of Music Ministries at St. Paul of the Cross Monastery in Pittsburgh, PA. Benjamin completed his Doctorate in Music Composition at West Virginia University, studying with Dr. Matthew Heap, Dr. David Taddie, and Dr. Joseph Dangerfield.
As a composer, Benjamin has had his compositions played throughout the world, including the United States, Canada, England, and much of Europe. His piece, Fête, was a finalist in the 2012 Kansas City AGO Composition Competition and led to the commission of Sonata No. 1, available through Selah Publishing. In July 2018, Sonata No. 1 was premiered at the 2018 National Convention for the American Guild of Organists in Kansas City. Benjamin was commissioned by Carson Cooman to write the work, Fantasia primi toni, for organ in the fall of 2014 and will premier Sonata No. 3 in 2022. Mr. Cooman has also recorded a number of Benjamin's works, and they can be heard on his Youtube channel. There are a number of commissions that can be heard on his YouTube site.
As an improviser, he was a semi-finalist at the 2011 André Marchal International Improvisation Competition held in Biarritz, France and was invited to the 2013 Arthur Piechler Improvisation Competition held in Landau, Germany. Benjamin competed in the 2015 Improvisation Competition held at the 55th Annual Conference on Organ Music at the University of Michigan. Lately, he has been exploring more avant-garde improvisations in a series titled Evening Improvisations found on his YouTube site.
Benjamin has lectured and served on panels regarding Liturgy and Sacred Music. He served as a panelist on Sacred Music at the 2015 National Pastoral Musicians Convention held in Grand Rapids Michigan. The panel was featured on the Pray Tell blog. He has lectured on the use of rhetoric in Baroque music as well as the performance issues surrounding temperament in early music. Benjamin has held various academic positions in the Pittsburgh region and is currently teaching music theory at Duquesne University.
- D.M.A., West Virginia University
- A.D., Duquesne University
- M.M., Duquesne University
- B.M., University of Montana, Missoula