Keith Benjamin joined the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance as professor of trumpet in 1989 with a Doctor of Musical Arts and a Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music. While in New York, he performed with the Rochester Philharmonic and held principal chairs in three other orchestras. Current orchestra positions include principal trumpet in the Colorado MahlerFest, guest principal trumpet in Orchestra Iowa, and extra trumpet for the Kansas City Symphony.
In addition to orchestral playing, Benjamin is an active recitalist and chamber musician, and is first trumpet in the Missouri Brass Quintet. His recitals frequently feature contemporary music, and he has commissioned and premiered numerous works, including compositions of Samuel Adler, James Mobberley, Peter Hamlin, Stephen David Beck, Eugene O’Brien, and many others. Recital and concert appearances in Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and more than 35 states are “traveling” highlights, and Kansas City also affords him the opportunity to have a lively professional career as a commercial, studio, and lead trumpet player; recent performances have been with Ben Folds, Peter Gabriel, Matthew Morrison, and Idina Menzel. Benjamin has presented master classes and clinics at dozens of universities and colleges in the United States and overseas.
Benjamin is partnered with Los Angeles organist Melody Steed in Clarion, a trumpet and organ duo that emphasizes twentieth-century music. The duo has released two CD recordings on Gothic Records; the second recording, Clarion: New Vintage, is comprised of five commissioned American works. The duo completed a highly successful performance tour of Hungary in summer 2006. Plans for a third CD recording of all commissions are in place, with new works by Adler and Mobberley, as well as commissions from Steven Bryant, Anthony Plog, and Adam Schoenberg.
Benjamin is an artist-clinician for the Selmer/Bach companies. He makes his home in Kansas City with his wife Jennifer and their two sons, Duncan and Rowan.
Melody Turnquist-Steed is currently serving as the Assistant Academic Dean at Bethany College. In addition to her administrative duties, she teaches organ, coordinates the sacred music program, and directs the Bethany College Handbell Ensemble.
A native Iowan, Dr. Steed received degrees in Organ Performance from the University of Northern Iowa, University of Cincinnati, and the University of Southern California. She has studied organ with Marilou Kratzenstein, Jesse Eschbach., Roberta Gary, and Cherry Rhodes.
An active recitalist, she has performed at regional and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists and the International Trumpet Guild. Along with trumpeter, Keith Benjamin, she performs as the trumpet/organ duo, Clarion. The duo has recorded two compact discs Clarion, New Music for Trumpet and Organ (1994), and New Vintage (2001) and been featured on the National Public Radio program, Pipe Dreams!
Prior to her appointment at Bethany College, Dr. Steed served as the organist at the prestigious Westwood United Methodist Church where she presided at the Shaffer Memorial Organ. Dr. Steed has most recently been honored for her service to Bethany College as a 2013 recipient of the Mortvedt Award for Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership.
Founded in 1983, this brilliant and versatile trumpet and organ duo presents an extraordinary range of styles, with performances featuring music spanning 400 years. The name Clarion suggests the musical connections to both the trumpet and organ, and from its meaning for the duo as a “Clarion Call” for new ideas, in keeping with their interest in the unique flavor of new music for trumpet and organ. The duo’s two Gothic Records releases feature works in every genre; the second CD – New Vintage, all American music commissioned by Clarion – compasses Samuel Adler’s neo-Classical “Clarion Calls” to James Mobberley’s boisterous piece for trumpet, organ and electronics “Icarus Wept” to, believe it or not, Klezmer music. Clarion’s electric and distinctive performances have pushed the envelope of the centuries-old association of trumpet and organ – the duo believes if the classics are the heartbeat of music, outstanding new works must be the lifeblood itself.
Melody Steed email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keith Benjamin email: BenjaminK@umkc.edu