|Born and raised in Sacramento, CA, Ben Phelps is active both as a percussionist and as one of Southern California s most exciting young composers. He is actively involved as a composer, performer, and technical director of the Definiens Project, an upstart Los Angeles nonprofit dedicated to redefining and reinvigorating classical chamber music. Through the use of themed concerts in less foreboding settings (non-traditional stages, night clubs), staged performances with movement and lighting, and collaborations with musicians from other musical genres, the group aims to breathe new life into 20th century chamber music with a distinct, Southern California bend. He is also the composer / co-sound-designer for the Rogue Artist s Ensemble, a pioneering theater / puppeteering troupe based in Orange County which was recently called by the LA Times the youngest, most buzzed about arrival on the Orange County Theater scene. His most recent work for the Rogue Artists, music to a wordless vignette The Dreams of Magdelena, was said to be sonically brilliant by the Orange County Weekly. He is currently spearheading a collaboration between the two groups, The Mysterious Adventures of Johnny Crumb, which will feature puppets, live actors, multimedia, live musicians on stage, and story and music by Ben Phelps. The project is being partly funded by the Opera Pacific opera company and is set to premier in July 2005.
As a performer, Phelps plays regularly in and around Los Angeles. He is a member of both the American Youth Symphony and the Young Musician s Foundation Debut Orchestra, two of the most prestigious pre-professional training orchestras in the country, has performed with the LA Chamber Singers, and countless other area community and regional orchestras. An accomplished marimbist, Phelps has premiered many of his own works, and was the percussion soloist for the world premier of the revised Cronica, a percussion concerto by Ian Krouse, in UCLA s Royce Hall. This past summer, he was the percussionist for the contemporary music ensemble at the Brevard Music Festival in Brevard, North Carolina, where he studied with percussionist extraordinaire Timothy Adams. Phelps is the youngest composer ever to be performed by the internationally acclaimed Verdehr Trio, a chamber group dedicated to new American music. His music has been programmed across the United States West Coast, from the Ashland New Music Festival in Ashland, Oregon to the Bakersfield Symphony New Music Group to the Las Vegas Music Festival. He is currently finishing a Master s Degree in Music Composition at the University of California, Los Angeles, where his major musical influences have been Ian Krouse, Paul Chihara, Susan McClary, and the late Jerry Goldsmith.