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Meet the composer – Benjamin Jackson


Hallam Sinfonia is delighted to introduce the composer of the fanfare “Shining Dawn” which will open the 50th anniversary concert in October with a flourish. Benjamin Jackson is a 26 year old member of the cello section who joined the orchestra in 2019. Marking the anniversary with a new commission from a player has contributed to the celebratory feeling and we are very much looking forward to playing this piece.


Benjamin started learning piano at age 7 and cello aged 9 and now teaches cello in Sheffield. Through his lessons, his blog, and inviting people to Hallam Sinfonia concerts(!), he says he tries to keep music going for new generations and help young people find ways to enjoy being creative, inquisitive and expressive.


Benjamin reckons he has been composing since he was 2 when he started pressing notes on his uncle’s electric piano. When he started lessons and was supposed to be practising, he preferred making up his own tunes or changing the pieces he was learning. He realised that this was ‘an actual thing’ when his piano teacher suggested he write down some of his ideas. After this he never looked back.


Shostakovich has been a favourite composer for most of Benjamin’s life. One of his earliest musical memories is of listening as a very young child to the suite from “The Gadfly”. He studied the fifth symphony for A Level and wrote his Master’s dissertation on the fourth symphony. Benjamin’s compositions during his Master’s course included his first piece for full orchestra “The Hollow Island”, which was premiered by the university’s symphony orchestra in 2021. In the course of his composing career he has experienced a wide range of styles and influences and we shall look forward to finding out which of these we can detect in the new work.


We’ll let Benjamin have the last word. He says ‘My approach to “Shining Dawn” was to create a celebratory and memorable piece that also depicted something forming, clarifying, crystallising and coming together. The fact that a group of musicians have been making and enjoying music for 50 years is something genuinely fantastic. I remember thinking after lockdown that being able to do this together - and continuing somehow through thick and thin - is something truly worth celebrating. I have also hidden the number 5 in the piece to mark the five decades, and the piece even finishes on note 5 of the scale, meaning it leaves things ever so slightly open. 50 years is a momentous milestone, but it’s certainly not the end’.

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