Benjamin Goodman has been creating music since the early age of five. At thirteen, he moved from Oxford to Israel where he committed himself to intense study of the piano. Under the guidance of his teacher Esther Narkiss, Benjamin finely crafted his skills on the keyboard and became an expert of the instrument.
He went on to serve as an Exceptional Musician in the Israel Defense Forces for three years, initiating a series of explained concerts for trainee officers and combat soldiers as well as donating pianos to two of the army bases. Following his army service, Benjamin studied under Prof. Eitan Globerson at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, receiving a perfect 100% for his Bachelors and Masters graduating recitals. His third degree was received from Mannes College in New York City, two miles away from the prestigious Carnegie Hall where he has performed twice in the past two years.
Today, Benjamin is our next featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to hear his depiction of a calm, cool desert….
When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
When I was four years old I would watch my brother’s cello lessons. He would often be accompanied on the piano by his cello teacher. I was mesmerized by the piano, and the cello teacher began to notice this. She then recommended I began learning the piano and she took on the responsibility of teaching me.
There wasn’t a specific moment when I suddenly realized that I wanted to be a performing pianist since this is who I have been my entire life. My commitment to the art has been challenged and tested but I never once lost the passion or the drive. I don’t think I have ever questioned if I would want to be anything else but an artist, a pianist.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Single malt whiskey. There is nothing like the abundance of different flavors each whiskey has, not to mention the unique intoxicating power of this strong drink.
If you could do any job in the world and make a living at it, what would that be?
Funny you should ask that, I would definitely say a concert pianist! But, unfortunately, I have some experience in this field and have discovered that “making a living” is the most difficult aspect.
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be?
There is nowhere like the quietness and solitude of the desert. I have spent many summers in the middle of the Negev Desert in southern Israel, in the scorching summer heat with scorpions and spiders. It is a barren landscape with hills and valleys painted with yellow, pink and beige. It is here that I find most inner peace and where I feel at one with the world.
At night the Milky Way and its countless stars are clearly visible. The cold night air refreshes and renews, preparing you for the burning sun of the next day. This is where I would want to have a little apartment, just large enough to fit a bed and a beautiful Steinway or Bosendorfer grand piano. In this serenity I would be able to dive into my most inner, meaningful contemplations and into careful, thoughtful, concentrated practice.
What was your favorite musical moment on the album?
The opening of the movement after the tragic third movement of Feigin’s Sonata. The third is dedicated to the memory of the Babi Yar massacre in the Second World War in Ukraine. And the fourth jumps into a frenzy of sound; challenging the pianist with giant leaps and sudden mood changes. It is enthralling to hear and thrilling to perform.
Was there a piece on your album that you found more difficult to perform than others?
It happens that my favorite musical moment on the album I also found to be the most difficult to perform. In general, the Sonata was the most challenging and rewarding composition on the album.
What does this album mean to you personally?
It is such a privilege for a young pianist to premiere the solo piano repertoire from an established composer. And in this case, I am delighted to be promoting a contemporary Israeli female composer: Sara Feigin. Female composers are rarely heard and making this CD feels like an important contribution in challenging established norms.
PIANO WORKS BY SARA FEIGIN is now available through Navona Records for streaming or purchase. Click here to explore this new album.