Benjamin (Ben) Tao is a 23-year-old violist, who will be continuing in his second year of training at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) in 2023. Ben completed a Bachelor of Music (Performance) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2021, studying with Associate Professor Goetz Richter AM, and is continuing his studies at ANAM under the tutelage and expertise of Caroline Henbest, to further his passion for music and development as a violist.
Ben initially started learning the violin at age nine, learning from Goetz Richter from age 14, picking up the viola at the ripe old age of 18. He is also a very keen chamber musician and aims to explore this craft more extensively at ANAM.
Ben has benefited from lessons with well-renowned violists such as Wolfram Christ (former principal violist of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra), Johannes Lüthy (former solo violist of the SWR Symphonieorchester), Esther van Stralen (Bremen), and Sylvie Altenburger (Freiburg) and has participated in chamber music masterclasses with members from the Emerson and Doric string quartets. Ben considers Prof. Johannes Lüthy as an important mentor in his musical development. Other musical highlights include his participation in Australian Youth Orchestra’s National Music Camp programs.
Outside of the viola, Benjamin is also proficient at playing the piano and violin, and has also has a passion for the Anglican choral tradition – he was a Merewether Scholar and chorister at Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) and was the Assistant Director of Choirs in 2020-2021. Ben is also currently a choral scholar with The Choir of Trinity College, Melbourne and is looking forward to touring with them internationally during the middle of the year, which will involve singing mass services in the Vatican City (St. Peter's and Paul's Basilicas) as well as services at St John's College, Cambridge and various cathedrals and colleges in the UK and Ireland. Ben has also sung alongside esteemed choirs such as Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus (Verdi's Messa di Requiem), Fullerton School of Music University Singers (California State University) as well as St James. King Street (Sydney).
When Ben isn't engrossed in his musical endeavours, he likes to stay active and is a very avid association footballer when he can find the time. Ben is also a fluent German and Cantonese speaker.
Ben performs on a modern viola made in 2022 by German-Italian violin maker Arwed Harms.
FROM: Sydney, NSW. Lands of the Gadigal people.
Photo credit Pia Johnson