Ben van Tienen

Composer and Musician

What is your musical background?

I’m from Tasmania, and I grew up playing the piano, singing in community choirs and loving community theatre. I studied as a pianist/accompanist at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and while I was there, I fell into the Sydney Childrens Choir/Gondwana scene. I can’t imagine something else shaping my musical life so uniquely and with so much love! I spent 3-4 years there, accompanying, conducting, and ultimately being Composer in Residence in 2010.
(In the meantime, I also fell into musical theatre, and now my life in London is pretty much divided between theatre, choirs, and composition! It’s a nice balance – when I manage to maintain all three at once!)

What is your advice to singers performing your works?

Because I have a theatre background, text and communication are both really important to me. I think as choirs we can get so focussed on purity/beauty of sound that we lose sight of the fact that we’re also performers! We have an audience that wants to engage with us and hear our stories! Let’s therefore tell our stories clearly and wholeheartedly!


What are your favourite pieces you’ve composed?

I have a very soft spot for “i carry your heart with me,” which I wrote for Exaudi Youth Choir in 2008 and which came pouring out of me all at once, reminding me that I have a voice, and it’s my duty to let people hear it!
I’m also really proud of “When I Am Old,” which was commissioned by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, and had its premiere earlier this year (2018).
But closest to my heart are the two occasions when I’ve written processionals for dear friends to walk down the aisle to at their weddings.

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