Ben Allaway’s music has been featured on programs with such diverse luminaries as Garrison Keillor and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Maya Angelou and Hal Holbrook, Simon Estes and Odetta, Jamie Bernstein and Buffy Sainte-Marie, as well as Richie Havens, Susan Werner, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Thomas Friedman, Hillary Clinton and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug.
In over 70 commissions, Ben’s dramatic and often interactive music challenges artists and audiences alike to examine afresh both their inner gifts and outer resources, and how they can share of themselves with the world in a positive way, whether on the relational level (social, cultural, spiritual) or even more actively in the work for peace and justice for all in the global community. His large work BANDARI: Inside These Walls has been acknowledged as a major contribution to the cross-cultural choral repertoire.
Central to Ben’s UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization) –based Thresholds Choral Festivals (www.ThresholdsFestival.com), his eclectic body of work reflects a passion for cross-cultural experiences as well as for the great Western musical traditions. Influences include: his early life amid the colorful cultural palette of California, degrees from St. Olaf College and Westminster Choir College, three years on the Mississippi (Hannibal, MO) teaching high school and later teaching at Waldorf College on the Iowa prairie; performing and sometimes recording with Bernstein, Muti, Masur, Abbado, Marriner, Shaw and Menotti, five years as an Episcopal cathedral choirmaster, tours with the Muungano National Choir of Kenya, and extensive travels including East Africa, the UK and Ireland, Europe, Central America, and throughout the U.S.
Besides numerous publications with Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Augsburg, GIA, Hinshaw, Concordia, his own Thresholds Music Press and Baker’s Plays/Samuel French, Ben has written a major chapter on ethnic choral music for The School Choral Program, a new secondary methods book in James Jordan’s series with GIA. He is also part of the Music That Makes Community project of All Saints Company with The Rev. Donald Schell and The Rev. Rick Fabian, founding priests of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco (www.allsaintscompany.org), promoting the idea of “paperless” music for its benefits for transforming worship into community-building, spontaneous expressions of faith.
Music By Heart: Paperless Songs for Evening Worship has been published by Church Publishing, the publishing house of the Episcopal Church. Ben has taught Music That Makes Community workshops at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco; St. Paul's Chapel of Trinity Wall Street, Ground Zero, New York City; and in Portland, OR, Grinnell, IA,Minneapolis, MN, and at Westminster Choir College, Princeton, NJ. Come have this face to face music and worship experience at one of this year's conferences. Info at www.allsaintscompany.org.
Ben has also written numerous commercial projects for Kawasaki, GMC, Students Against Driving Drunk, and has had three major projects broadcast on Iowa Public Television: Tallgrass Canticles (1995); The Vacant Chair (2003); The Laureate Call, World Food Prize 20th Anniversary (2006). A fourth, HEAVEN & EARTH: A Celtic Mass will be filmed April 2, 2011. Writer Chuck Offenburger referred to Ben recently as “one of Iowa’s cultural icons.”
Ben collaborates frequently with his spouse, Julianne Allaway, focusing on themes of community, spirituality, inclusivity, and service. They have created numerous texts for hymns, songs and anthems for choirs and communities, and recently published a book of congregational songs called Hymns, Psalms and Spiritual Songs. Their work has been heard throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia and Africa. In addition to collaborating on musical projects, Julianne is a published author of devotional writings, lends herself as editor to others, and serves as the Executive Assistant to the Bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. Ben is Composer-in-Residence and Director of Music at First Christian Church in Des Moines, is active nationally in the American Choral Directors Association and as a clinician for workshops and festivals.