Baritone Ben Kazez studied as a Britten–Pears Young Artist in England and performs a wide range of music, with a particular interest in lively performances of baroque works.
Ben’s 2016–17 season culminated with Bach cantata performances at Aldeburgh Music (England) with renowned English tenor Mark Padmore. He also performed Bach cantatas as soloist in three full cantatas with internationally recognized trumpeter John Thiessen and violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock. In 2015–16 he performed several Bach cantatas as guest soloist at the University of San Diego; Bach’s St John Passion (Jesus) at California Polytechnic State University; Charpentier’s Mass for 8 Voices at Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Festival; Mozart’s Requiem with Sonoma Bach; Mozart’s Mass in C Minor at Stanford University; Rameau’s Thétis at California Jazz Conservatory; and Bach’s Coffee Cantata at Berkeley Festival Fringe. His 2015–16 season included Bach’s Mass in B Minor with American Bach Soloists and Messiah with Cincinnati Boychoir. In 2014–15 he appeared with ABS in Handel’s L’Allegro (in a performance called “remarkable” by the San Francisco Classical Voice) and in Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music at the Mondavi Center at University of California, Davis. Ben’s other concert repertoire includes Handel’s Esther (as Haman with ABS); Bach’s St Matthew Passion (arias), Christmas Oratorio, and a dozen cantatas including Ich habe genug; Fauré’s Requiem; Haydn’s Creation, Lord Nelson Mass, and Paukenmesse; Brahms’s German Requiem; and many more.
On the operatic stage, Ben’s 2016 performance as Don Basilio in Paisiello’s Barber of Seville with West Edge Opera (California) was heralded by the San Francisco Classical Voice as “vital and fresh.” His 2014–15 appearances included Re di Scozia in Handel’s Ariodante, Zoroastro in Handel’s Orlando and a “delightfully embellished” (San Francisco Examiner) performance as Grand Priest of Bacchus in Marais’s Sémélé with ABS. He has also performed numerous musical theater roles, including Arac in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Princess Ida and Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady.
Ben’s passion for concert music extends to art songs, contemporary music, and small ensemble work. In 2015–16 he performed Samuel Barber’s “Dover Beach” at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre and gave a solo recital with pianist Peter Grunberg that included works of Schubert and Czech songs of Holocaust-era composer Pavel Haas. Earlier art song experience includes Vaughan Williams’s Songs of Travel in master class with pianist Martin Katz. In 2014–15, he performed small-ensemble works of Monteverdi, Moulinié, and Buxtehude at American Bach Soloists Festival. He also performed music from the Renaissance to the contemporary at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral as a member of the nine-voice Chanticleer alumni ensemble Clerestory, including “Sing With Haiti” hosted by Deborah Voigt and Susan Graham.
Ben believes strongly in bringing new audiences to classical music. To further that goal, Ben recently launched the Leipzig Cantata Project. Ben sang the baritone parts and brought together nine other musicians including Tafelmusik/Philharmonia baroque trumpeter John Thiessen and Philharmonia concertmaster Elizabeth Blumenstock. More than 200 people, nearly half of them younger than 35, gathered to hear three cantatas and enjoy German wines and snacks with the performers. The project was featured by KWMR 90.5 FM, the Goethe Institut, and the San Francisco Early Music Society.
Ben is the son of a cellist and amateur pianist and performed in honors choirs as a boy soprano. Ben graduated magna cum laude with Phi Beta Kappa from Carleton College (Minnesota), where he studied music, computer science, and linguistics.
- Britten–Pears Young Artist 2016
- Bach Cantatas with John Thiessen and Elizabeth Blumenstock
- Don Basilio in Paisiello’s Barber of Seville with West Edge Opera
- Barber’s “Dover Beach” at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre
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