Benjamin Vary

Announcing

“… The Finnish-trained Australian [Benjamin Vary] has a clear technique and refined control, and his warmth and depth of feeling gave the performance a tremendous boost. The Odense Symphony Orchestra played with assurance and a beautiful sonority, the balance was well nigh perfect, and while justice was done to the great dramatic eruptions, his expressiveness is primarily based on a strong undercurrent of lyrical intensity: calmly longing lines and deep, warm colours that give the drama emotional intensity.”

(Politiken, Copenhagen)

“... Adelaide’s fine orchestral players excelled themselves... an engrossing event... [after which] the audience responded with prolonged approval... a beautifully supple and balanced reading of Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun... a joyous tour-de-force in Stravinsky’s Petrushka – powerfully precise.”

(Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide)

“… In the conductor Benjamin Vary’s reading there is a focus on the clarity, stringency and structure of the music.  Tight and controlled, the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra played flawlessly through the three acts.”

(Nordjyske Stiftstidende, Ålborg)

“… a gifted practitioner, one whose work on the podium is both technically precise and musically enlivening.”

(Hufvudstadsbladet, Helsinki)

“… Benjamin is a very gifted musician who possesses... temperament, liveliness, and above all, tasteful musicality."

Ilya Musin

Biography

Benjamin Vary holds the honour of being the first Australian to have graduated from the renowned conducting class of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, where he studied with Jorma Panula, Eri Klas, Atso Almila and Leif Segerstam.  Vary also worked intensively under the guidance of Ilja Musin at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in St. Petersburg, Gianluigi Gelmetti at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, and Christoph Eschenbach at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo.  Previously, Vary completed postgraduate studies in conducting at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.

Since making his professional debut with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at the 1999 International Barossa Music Festival, Benjamin Vary has conducted orchestras in Denmark, Norway, Australia, Spain, Italy (Siena Chamber Orchestra and Sofia Symphony Orchestra), France’s Orchestre National du Capitole du Toulouse, the UK’s Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and almost all of the orchestras in Finland, most notably the St Michel Strings and the Tampere Philharmonic.

In 2000, Vary made his Danish debut with The Danish National Opera (Den Jyske Opera) and the Sønderjyllands Symphony Orchestra conducting Drot og Marsk (The King & the Commander) by the Danish composer, Peter Heise (stylistically akin to Wagner). Here, Vary worked with then Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Opera, Kaspar Holten.

Returning in the 2001 season, Vary created a new touring production of Puccini’s Tosca with the Aalborg, Odense and Sønderjyllands Symphony Orchestras, collaborating with director Troels Kold and an international cast, receiving rave reviews and standing ovations at most of the 17 performances. Other operatic works in Vary’s repertoire include Der Schauspieldirektor (Mozart), L’Elisir d’Amore (Donizetti), Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini), The Wandering Scholar (Holst), Trouble in Tahiti (Bernstein), The Medium (Menotti), The Turn of the Screw (Britten), Il Signor Bruschino (Rossini), Eine Nacht in Venedig (J.Strauss II) and La Voix Humaine (Poulenc).

Vary also prepared the Brisbane Festival’s 1998 Australian-première production of Thomas Adès’ Powder Her Face, working closely with the composer both in Brisbane and in Minneapolis, USA.

August 2000 saw the release of Vary’s first commercial recording on the Warner Music label, conducting the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in Dance Gundah, the world’s first concerto for didjeridu written by Philip Bracanin.  Among other works, Vary has also recorded Bracanin’s Cello Concerto and Piano Concertino, works that are frequently aired on Australian radio.  Autumn 2003 saw him making an EBU recording of Brahms’ Third Symphony with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.

An active promoter of the contemporary music of Scandinavia as well, Vary was invited by the Finnish Society of Composers to perform with Helsinki’s Zagros Ensemble at the 2000 Nordic Music Days.  In autumn 2006, he established his own contemporary group, Ensemble Tjalfi to create the Finnish-première production of Peter Maxwell-Davies’ The No.11 Bus for the Finnish Chamber Opera.

In addition to his conducting, Vary also hopes to complete a book about conducting based on Ilja Musin’s teaching principles.  This would include extracts of Musin’s own On Teaching Conducting in their first English translation. Benjamin Vary can communicate additionally in French, German and Finnish, and resides in Helsinki. He has been awarded the Dalley-Scarlett Memorial Scholarship, a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship, and prizes from the Queen Elizabeth II Trust and the Australia Council.

Behind the scenes

Listen

Debussy: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, cond. Benjamin Vary
 

Bračanin: Dance Gundah - 2. Andante
Queensland Symphony Orchestra, cond. Benjamin Vary, didjeridu Matthew Boyle

Puccini: Che gelida manina (La Bohème)
Vaasa City Orchestra, cond. Benjamin Vary, tenor Mika Pohjonen

Brahms: Symphony No.3, iii Poco Allegretto
Norwegian Radio Orchestra, cond. Benjamin Vary

Gallery

Rehearsing University of Queensland SO 1992
With teachers Eri Klas and Ilya Musin, Sibelius Academy 1995
With Carlo Maria Giulini at the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, 1999.

Productions

Compositions / Arrangements

Composer

Title

Instrumentation

Bridge, Frank

Gondoliera

Solo viola, harp, string orchestra

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Grüber, Franz

Stille Nacht (Silent Night)

Voice, harp, string orchestra

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Lloyd-Webber, Andrew

With One Look from Sunset Boulevard

Solo mezzo soprano, 3.2.3.2 4.3.3.1 timp, perc(2), hp, pno, str

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Martin, Frank

Trois Chants de Noël

Solo soprano, flute, harp, string orchestra

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Mendelssohn

Song without words no.9 (Op.50 no.3)

1.1.2.1 2.0.0.0 timp, harp, strings

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Monteverdi

Ecco mormorar l’onde, SV 51

Solo strings 3.2.2.2.1

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Poulenc

La Voix Humaine, Opera in one act

1.1.1.1 1.1.1.0 timp, hp, strings 1.1.1.1.1

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Prokofiev

The Ugly Duckling, Op.18

Soprano, fl, cl, bsn, hrn, pno, vln, vc

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Erik Satie

Gymnopédie No.1

String orchestra (minimum 4.3.2.2.1)

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Strauss

Sei mir gegrüsst from Eine Nacht in Venedig (Duke’s Aria)

Tenor, 2.1.2.2  2.1.3.0 timp, harp, strings

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Traditional

Ding Dong Merrily on High

Soprano, flute, harp, string orchestra (4.3.2.2.1)

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Turunen/Wollbeck

I Walk Alone

Soprano, 3.2.corA.2.bcl.2.contra 4.3.3.1 timp, perc(2), drum kit, hp, cel, str

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Tarja Turunen

In for a Kill

Soprano, 3(picc).2.corA. 3.bcl.2.contra 4.3.3.1 timp, perc(4), kit, hp, synth, str

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Tarja Turunen

Oasis

Soprano, bass cl, sop sax, perc(2), pno, str

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Tarja Turunen

Witch-hunt

Soprano, 3.2.corA.2.bcl.2.contra 4.3.3.1 timp, perc(5), drum kit, hp, pno, cel, str

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Benjamin Vary

His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood (Hänen suunsa maistu koiruoholta)

Narrator, flute (doubling piccolo and bass flute), micro-tonally tuned harpsichord, solo strings 4.3.2.2.1

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Teaching

Benjamin is also an accomplished teacher with over two decades experience in teaching flute and piano, in addition to his vocal coaching and guest lecturing.

In 2001, he founded his own company, Prospero Music, with the aim of providing music tuition in English to Finland’s growing expatriate community.  It still exists today as a modest, private music school, working in co-operation with The English School in central Helsinki.

Contact