Benjamin Gabbay

Writer | Digital Designer | Composer

 Music

Benjamin is a classical pianist and composer. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Composition from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, where he is currently pursuing his Masters in Composition, studying under Dr. Alexander Rapoport. He has studied piano for 15 years and completed his ARCT in Piano Performance certification with the Royal Conservatory of Music in 2019. Benjamin currently leads the music at an evening worship service at Jubilee United Church in Toronto.

Benjamin’s compositions have received recognition by Toronto’s St. James Cathedral (for i thank you God for most this amazing day, one of two winners of the cathedral’s 2018-2019 composition competition), the Amadeus Choir International Seasonal Song-Writing Competition (honourable mention, 2015, for Ave Maria) and the Ruth Watson Henderson Choral Competition (honourable mention, 2017, for Lux Aeterna). In 2018, he was commissioned to write a highlight premiere for the Mississauga Summer Chorale’s end-of-season concert (Requiem l’homme armé). His works have been described by conductors and composers as filling a demand in the Canadian choral scene for compositionally and technically adventurous choral music that still follows in a tradition with mainstream appeal. Through U of T, he has been the recipient of the Susan Cale Award (2017), the Robert and John Elliot McBroom Scholarship (2017, 2018, 2019), the Lobodowsky Choral Scholarship (2018), the Gwendolen M Grant Music Scholarship (2019), and the Lothar Klein Memorial Fellowship (2020).

Below is a selection of recordings of Benjamin’s piano playing and compositions. All these and more may be viewed on his YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/bengabbay.

Compositions

“so comes love” (2020)

“so comes love” is an a cappella SATB choral setting of a short poem by E. E. Cummings. The piece was premiered virtually at the Mississauga Summer Chorale’s online Cabaret Concert on August 8, 2020. Full text and list of performers can be found in the YouTube video description.

“And so the night became” (2020)

This choral setting of Emily Dickinson’s poem #106 (“The cricket sang…”), was composed, performed, and recorded in Canada during the COVID-19 lockdown. Full text, program notes, and full list of performers can be found in the YouTube video description.

This piece was written in May 2020 for JM Canada’s “Do Mi Si La Do Ré Contest,” where it was awarded an Artistic Prize as one of the top 10 entries. The aim of the competition was to write a piece of music utilizing the musical phrase “Do Mi Si La Do Re,” (“domicile adoré”/”home sweet home”) as a reflection on the COVID-19 lockdown in Canada.

“Annabel Lee” (2019)

My setting of Edgar Allan Poe’s last completed poem, “Annabel Lee” (1849), for SATB choir and piano, performed by Concreamus Chamber Choir at the November 2019 Faculty of Music Student Composer Concert in Walter Hall, University of Toronto. Full text and program notes can be found in the YouTube video description.

Conductor – Kai Leung
Piano – Benjamin Gabbay

“Toward Eternity” (2019)

My setting of Emily Dickinson’s poem #479, “Because I could not stop for Death…,” written for, and performed by, soprano Claire Latosinsky as part of her December 6, 2019 recital at the University of Toronto, with pianist Suzy Smith.

Text is used with permission of Harvard University Press. Please see the YouTube video description for full lyrics, program notes, and copyright information.

“Sous l’abside du ciel d’été” (2019)

My setting of Léon-Paul Fargue’s poem “Romance” (1919) performed at the October 2019 Student Composers Concert in Walter Hall, University of Toronto.

Performed by Claire Latosinsky (Soprano I), Abigail Bugden-Sinclair (Soprano II), Sarah Mole (Soprano II), Elizabeth Legierski (Alto), Francesca Hauser (Alto), Nathan Gritter (Tenor), Ricardo Ferro (Baritone) Kai Leung, (Baritone), Nicholas Wanstall (Bass), and Dante Mullin Santone (Bass). Conducted by Benjamin Gabbay.

Full program notes and lyrics can be found in the YouTube video description.

​i thank You God for most this amazing day (2019)

A setting of E. E. Cummings’ poem “i thank You God for most this amazing day” for a cappella SATB choir. This work was one of two winning entries in St. James Cathedral’s inaugural (2018/2019) Choral Composition Competition, premiered and recorded by the St. James Cathedral Choir in Toronto, Canada.

Conducted by St. James Cathedral Director of Music, Robert Busiakiewicz
Soprano solo: Rachel Allen
Alto solo: Rebecca Claborn

Full program notes and lyrics can be found in the YouTube video description.

“Musette” for clarinet and piano (2018)

This clarinet-piano duet is based on an early piano composition of mine and inspired by the bal-musette French popular music style of the early 20th century. Combining a languid “chanson” and a quick valse, it seeks to evoke a belle-epoque pastorality with its melodic simplicity.

Clarinet: Katelyn Katic
Piano: Benjamin Gabbay

Performed March 13, 2018, in Walter Hall, University of Toronto, as part of the Faculty of Music’s March 2018 Student Composer Concert

The Lake (2019)

A setting of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Lake” for two voices and piano, premiered at the 2019 TILT Composers’ Collective concert in Victoria Chapel, University of Toronto, on April 9, 2019.

Voice 1: Claire Latosinsky
Voice 2: Anika France
Piano: Benjamin Gabbay (with assistance from Kai Leung)

Full program notes and lyrics can be found in the YouTube video description.

“Requiem l’homme armé” (2018)

Toronto premiere of my “Requiem l’homme armé” for SATB choir and piano. Performed in Walter Hall, University of Toronto, on November 20, 2018. Commissioned by the Mississauga Summer Chorale for their 2018 concert “Reminiscence.” Full program notes and lyrics can be found in the YouTube video description.

Conductor: Victor Cheng
Pianist: Hyejin Kwon
Soloist: Nila Rajagopal
SOPRANOS: Anika France-Forget, Nila Rajagopal
ALTOS: Julia Barber, Claire Latosinsky
TENORS: Ricardo Ferro, Benjamin Gabbay, Nathan Gritter, Kevin Mulligan
BASSES: Kai Leung, Dante Mullin Santone, Nicholas Wanstall, Tristan Zaba

i carry your heart with me (2019)

The premiere of “i carry your heart with me” for mezzo-soprano and piano, my setting of the well-known E. E. Cummings poem, at the Toronto songSLAM art song competition in Walter Hall, University of Toronto, on January 16, 2019.

Mezzo-soprano: Maria Milenic
Pianist: Benjamin Gabbay

Full program notes and lyrics can be found in the YouTube video description.

Piano playing

Academic Papers

  • Flying Fish and Falling Stars: Adynata and other forms of hyperbole in Irish and Scottish ballad literature (2018) [Click for PDF]
  • “Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget ihr Saiten!”: A study of Bach’s third Weimar cantata and the spirituality of his musical
    language (2018) [Click for PDF]
  • In Paradisum: The Unique Spirituality of Fauré’s Requiem (2017) [Click for PDF]
  • The Locked Door: Viennese Modernism and Its Place in a Disinterested Modern World (2016) [Click for PDF]