Ben Roidl-Ward

Paine Hall
Harvard University

HGNM welcomes bassoonist Ben Roidl-Ward to the 2023-24 season.

Recently named one of 23 artists who are “changing the sound of classical music” by the Washington Post, Ben Roidl-Ward is the Assistant Professor of Bassoon at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He also holds positions as Principal Bassoonist of the Chicago Sinfonietta, Co-Principal Bassoonist of Sinfonia Da Camera, and Second Bassoonist of the Illinois Symphony. A leading performer of contemporary music, Ben is Solo Bassoonist of Chicago’s Ensemble Dal Niente and serves as a Contemporary Leader for the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, where he performs throughout Europe with the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra, co-curates the annual Lucerne Forward! Festival, and teaches in the Lucerne Festival Academy. Ben’s dedication to working with and advocating for composers of his generation has led him to commission numerous works featuring the bassoon, and he has participated in the premieres of over 125 compositions to date.

Ben has performed with leading ensembles around the country, including the Chicago Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Grossman Ensemble, and the Oregon, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Hawai’i, and Richmond Symphonies. In 2021, he performed as Guest Principal Bassoonist of the Arctic Philharmonic in Bodø, Norway. As a soloist, Ben has performed concertos by composers from Antonio Vivaldi to Sofia Gubaidulina with ensembles such as the Seattle Symphony, the Oberlin Contemporary Ensemble, and the Northwestern University Contemporary Ensemble, among others. He was the 3rd Prizewinner of the IDRS Young Artist Competition (2013), a finalist for the Gillet-Fox Competition (2020), and the recipient of a Luminarts Fellowship in Classical Music (2018). His festival appearances include the Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, Grant Park, Tanglewood, Lucerne, Donaueschingen, Spoleto, National Repertory Orchestra, and Banff Festivals.

Prior to his appointment at the University of Illinois, Ben held teaching positions as Assistant Professor of Bassoon at the University of Northern Iowa, Guest Faculty at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and Instructor of Bassoon at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. He currently serves as a Mentor for the Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative, a program that prepares students from underrepresented backgrounds for admission to top music schools. Ben has presented masterclasses at Northwestern University, the Oberlin and Peabody Conservatories, SUNY Fredonia, and the State Universities of Arizona, Louisiana, Colorado, and Oklahoma.

Last year, Ben released his debut solo album, Axis Mundi, which was featured on Bandcamp Daily’s “Best Contemporary Classical on Bandcamp: November 2022,” as well as “Moonhead,” an interdisciplinary album of original solo works developed in collaboration with visual artist Ben Llewellyn. He served as an Artist-in-Residence at the Bienen Center for New Music at Northwestern University in the Spring of 2023, and will hold the same position with the Harvard Group for New Music in Fall of 2023.

Ben is an alum of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He received his DMA from Northwestern University, where he studied with David McGill and researched methods of notating the bassoon’s multiphonics. His previous teachers include Ben Kamins at Rice University, George Sakakeeny at the Oberlin Conservatory, and Francine Peterson in the Seattle area.


Works by Darcy Copeland, Jonah Haven and Victor Arul.

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