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Mission

MISSION

 

Ben Batalla offers a distinguished musicianship with a versatile background in jazz, improvisation, classical and sacred music traditions. He is an active performer, composer, recording artist, and teacher in the Austin, TX area. Ben aims to integrate these aspects of his musicianship to create music that will allow listeners to encounter a beauty that is transformative. He believes in the transformative power of beauty and desires to use art as a means of reminding his listeners of their own inherent dignity and worth.

EDUCATION

Ben began his music studies at the age of seven in Miami, Florida and attended the Bak Middle School of the Arts and the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida. In 2011, he

and his piano cohort founded the Impromptu Concert Series, that provided an opportunity for young musicians to make classical music appealing and accessible to other young people by presenting the music in a new way. The Impromptu Concert Series has proceeded to be a yearly sold-out weekend event to this day, thus allowing the piano department at Dreyfoos to continue to thrive and receive recognition in the South Florida community. During this time, Ben developed his passion for composing and arranging, as well as ways to present classical music to a wider audience.

 

He earned his Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts Degrees in Piano Performance from Tulane University with a full scholarship and assistantship, having studied with Professor Faina Lushtak, former faculty member of Moscow Conservatory. As a classical pianist, Ben won several national and international competitions including the Orfeo International Music Competition in Vipiteno, Italy, where he placed first in both the solo and concerto rounds. He also won the Louisiana Music Teachers Association Young Artist Competition and was a winner at the semi-final round of the Music Teachers National Association in 2016 and 2018. Ben also won first prize at the Tulane Concerto Competition, where he performed Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto with the university orchestra.

 

Ben has participated and performed in music festivals including the Brandywine International Piano Institute at West Chester University, the Orfeo Internal Music Festival in Italy, the Qué Pasa Hispanic Heritage Festival where performed for renowned Cuban pianist Jorge Luis Prats. He has also studied with Dr. Ivo Kaltchev and Dr. Ralitza Patcheva at the Catholic University of America. Ben has experience in the Taubman approach and has studied extensively with Rob Durso.

JAZZ

 

While at Tulane, Ben also studied jazz with notable faculty including Adam Benjamin from Kneebody. While in New Orleans, he performed with artists like Kermit Ruffins, Mario Abney, and Nayo Jones. In 2013, he was featured in Downbeat Magazine as a winning young artist. In 2018, he was also featured on artist Ethan Bortnick’s Celebration of Music Talent Show on PBS with one of his improvisations.

While continuing his education at the Catholic University of America, his jazz combo also performed at the Embassy of Bulgaria and hosted the first official live jazz performance at the university. He was recently featured as a performing jazz pianist at the Embassy of China for its first China-US Virtual Musicians Concert.

 

As a jazz musician, Ben was immersed in communities of different musical philosophies and cultural backgrounds, and he learned to enjoy the challenge of breaking musical barriers and sharing a musical voice with other artists of different styles.

THE VIGIL PROJECT

Since 2017, Ben has been a collaborating artist with The Vigil Project, a Catholic artists’ collective that seeks to foster a deeper spirituality of devotional prayer through music. In 2018, he released his first single with composer and producer for Papercastle Records Shawn Williams titled Human and Divine. And in 2020, he and The Vigil Project released their first full-length instrumental album titled Exodus, which showcases improvised instrumental meditations on several passages from the book of Exodus. His most recent release was a series of musical meditations on the Beatitudes released through Hagios Bible Studies, and his music is also featured in the Hallow Catholic prayer app.

 

Ben has a special passion for improvisation and believes that spontaneous music-making has a unique power in drawing listeners into contemplative prayer. He enjoys the vulnerability and excitement of creating music on-the-spot.

SACRED MUSIC

 

 Since his youth, Ben has been active in sacred music as a singer and instrumentalist. He studied organ with teachers including Professor Marcus St. Julien at Loyola University and Professor Kimberly Hess at Marymount University. He has worked closely with Adam Bartlett, President and Editor of Illuminare

Publications and composer of Simple English Propers. Ben also studied composition with Dr. Peter Latona, Director of Music for the Basilica of National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as well as choral conducting with Dr. Timothy McDonnell at the Catholic University of America.

Ben has worked as a music director and accompanist in several parishes and campus ministries including Tulane University, George Mason University, and American University. He was on the faculty at Martin Saints Classical High School in Philadelphia, PA as a choir director and music teacher. Ben is currently the organist at the University Catholic Center at the University of Texas-Austin.

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