Collaborative Conductor Joins Music Faculty

It was the first day of sixth grade band when Benjamin Klemme was struck with the profundity of artistic connection. As one voice in a large group, musical community was a source of inspiration and joy—a joy Klemme now brings to Gordon’s Department of Music as associate teaching professor of music.

Growing up in Iowa’s robust music education culture and a Christian home wove together an increasing passion for both music and faith. “As I became more and more experienced in my calling as a musician and my faith as a believer,” Klemme says, “I developed an understanding of how those things can and ought to interact.”

Now moving to the North Shore with his family of five after serving as the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association music director and conductor, Klemme, who will conduct Gordon’s Symphonic Band and Symphony Orchestra, prepares to unite his gifts in a new setting.

“I’m always looking through opportunities with my role as a conductor to connect my students and their music with the community of which we are a part,” he says. “I think there are a lot of opportunities for the Gordon Symphony Orchestra and the Symphonic Band to become an even more ubiquitous part of the College culture and fabric.”

For his new ensembles, permeating Gordon’s culture will look like collaboration, and plans are already underway. Recognizing the College’s global emphasis, the Gordon Symphony Orchestra’s November 2 concert will feature music written by composers while traveling abroad: Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances, Mendelssohn’s The Hebrides and Handel’s Symphony No. 104 “London Symphony.”

“I think there’s a cool opportunity for us in the Music Department and the Global Education Office to collaborate,” says Klemme, noting that Gordon offers opportunities abroad in each of the locations represented in the music: Romania, Scotland and England.

“Thirty-five percent of our student body studies abroad or beyond Gordon College at some point during their years,” he says. “So, how cool is it to get a glimpse into that through our music-making? That’s the beauty of the liberal arts environment. I feel the responsibility to train our students to make those connections and to go beyond their discipline into the disciplines of others and build those global connections.”

The collaborations will go beyond campus, as well. For the November concert, Klemme hopes to bring in traditional Romanian musicians to perform the original folk pieces. One of Klemme’s goals, he says, is “to reach out to the members of our broader community here on the North Shore and to use the resources and the talent and the energy that we have here at the College to meet the artistic and musical needs and interests of the community in which we’re situated.”

One unique voice in the culture of Gordon College, Klemme says he is honored to join in the Department’s legacy of serving the community and making music.

“As a performer and as a believer,” says Klemme, “I see it as a responsibility for us to be making music with the gifts that we’ve been given to glorify God and to become an attractive, beauty-inspiring presence in the world.”