Called "feisty" and "impressive" by the LA Times, Ben Phelps lives in Los Angeles, where he is a percussionist, composer and amateur urban planning enthusiast. His music combines an avant-garde and populist split-personality into a poly-stylistic and eclectic output. Recent obsessions include time and formalist expanding music structures, copyright and intellectual ownership, and the incorporation, appropriation and deconstruction of canonic works.

His music has been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, Talujon, pianist Vicki Ray, Argus String Quartet, What’s Next? Ensemble, and has been heard frequently at venues across the West Coast and around the world, such as the Carlsbad Music Festival, REDCat at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Piano Spheres, SPLICE Music Festival, Festival deciBels (Riga, Latvia), The Blue Whale, the Outpost Series at UC Riverside, Tuesdays @ Monk Space, and Boston Court.

Current composer / performer projects include The B Band, a classical band, which recently released Mahler, Symphony no. 5 by Ben Phelps on Cereal Music (“The results are really something else … It’s like Mahler daydreaming of himself” -George Grella, Kill Yr Idols Newsletter). His duo project with electric guitarist Alexander Elliot Miller recently created Public Domain, a concert-length project featuring our own music and that of four other commissioned Southern California based composers and premiered at Tuesdays @ Monk Space in Los Angeles. And his digitally time-stretched electro-acoustic piano solo Sometimes I Feel Like My Time Ain’t Long, written for pianist Vicki Ray and based on a gospel tune of the same name, was featured on the opening concert of the 2022-23 Piano Sphere’s season. (“The words devolve until they are simply harmonic tones and overtones… the piece fades into the realm of spiritual transformation.” -San Francisco Classical Voice).

As a working percussionist in Los Angeles with a special focus on contemporary music, he has performed with the Long Beach Opera, The Industry Opera, Hollywood Chamber Orchestra, the San Bernadino Symphony, What’s Next? Ensemble, Synchromy, WildUp, members of Bang on Can, at the Ojai Music Festival, Zanker Hall at Carnegie Hall, and have worked with many of the leading composers of modern music today including Steve Reich, John Adams, Michael Gordon, and Jacob ver Teldhuis. Always looking for ways to support the creation of interesting new music, with What’s Next? Ensemble he founded the LA Composer’s Project, a curated festival of music by Los Angeles-based music makers which over the course of six years presented the works of over 100 different local composers of all ages and points in their career.

More commercially he’s worked the past decade as a touring assistant conductor for the Lord of Rings Live, which performs the film trilogy to the entire film with live orchestra. This is the first major film series presented live in concert in this way, and has spawned a whole new genre of live concert experience. Through this production he’s worked with the highest level of orchestras in the world, such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Orquesta Nacional de España, Müncher Sÿmphoniker, and many more. As an orchestrator his orchestration and reduction of Nino Rota’s ballet La Strada has been in repertoire at Munich’s Staatstheater am Gârtnerplatz (the city’s second state opera company). Previously, his work with the pioneering theater company Rogue Artists Ensemble was been called "enchanting" by the LAWeekly and "sonically brilliant" by the OCWeekly.

Phelps holds a degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a DMA in music composition at University of Southern California. He can currently be found teaching music theory and composition at UCLA.

(short version)

Called "feisty" and "impressive" by LA Times, Ben Phelps is a an active composer, percussionist, and founder of things. His music has been called "enchanting" (LA Weekly), "a riot" (LA Times), and has been praised for his "nuanced irony" (The Artificialist) and "Hindemithian seriousness" (LA Times). Current projects include The B Band, a classical band, the electric guitar and percussion duo Miller || Phelps, and recordings on his Cereal Music Record Label. In addition to championing experimental and ground-breaking music, working as a performing percussionist in Southern California and beyond, he enjoyed a long collaborative partnership with multimedia puppeteering company Rogue Artists Ensemble, and has traveled the world as an assistant conductor to Lord of the Rings Live. He lives and works in Los Angeles, where he is also an amateur satirist and urban planning enthusiast.



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