Benton Roark’s music has been described as “visionary” (The Vancouver Sun), “ardent and soaring” (The National Post), and and “an experience of deep and darkling beauty” (The Austin Chronicle). His work has been commissioned and performed by Tapestry Opera, the Bozzini Quartet, TorQ Percussion, Redshift Music, the Victoria Guitar Trio, Fugue Theatre, and Triplepoint Trio, among other groups. Roark has also enjoyed critical acclaim as a bandleader and solo artist with projects such as The Benton Roark Band (“magisterial” The Vancouver Sun), Rollaway (“backwoods choir elegance” The Georgia Straight), and Arkora (“the standout event of Vancouver’s spring music season” Vancouver Observer).
In recent years, Roark has worked increasingly in the realm of opera and experimental music theatre, with full productions including Tapestry Opera’s Bandits in the Valley and TAP:EX Augmented Opera (“a compact, experimental success,” The Globe and Mail), Vancouver Pro Musica/Tomoe Arts’s Shadow Catch (“an evocative score” The Bulletin), Fugue Theatre’s Off Leash (“one of the most unique theatrical experiences currently on Vancouver stages” Vancity Buzz), and Songs from the Rainshadow’s Edge (“a mysterious landscape of instrumental timbre” The WholeNote). Nominated as Classical Composition of the Year by the Western Canadian Music Awards, the Rainshadow cycle has been presented across North America by Redshift Music (Vancouver), Sound Symposium (St. John’s), Ear Heart Music (New York), and Church of the Friendly Ghost (Austin).
Roark’s work can be heard on a number of recordings, including the Victoria Guitar Trio’s Concentric Rings, the Bozzini Quartet’s À chacun sa miniature, flutist Mark Takeshi McGregor’s Sins and Fantasies, Arkora’s Songs from the Rainshadow’s Edge, and no fewer than five records of original work with indie rock, folk, and fusion projects (the latest – Rollaway’s Modern Epic – drew comparisons to the Stax/Volt catalogue, Sea Level, and the Allman Brothers, and and was called “superb” by The Vancouver Sun). Ongoing projects include The Handless Maiden, a new opera being developed with Tempest Flutes, Dystopia Lost, a cycle for chamber choir and ensemble written for Arkora’s Transfigured Light project, and work on a series of microtonal instruments including the Lumiphone, a glass marimba in 31-tone equal temperament.
Roark holds degrees from Oberlin College and Conservatory and the University of British Columbia (D.M.A., 2013), and he has been a resident artist at the Banff Centre, The Atlantic Center for the Arts, Avaloch Farm, and the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, where he was co-recipient of the Tournon Branley Prize for collaborative work in architecture and music. Roark has served as President of Vancouver Pro Musica and Associate Artistic Director of Redshift Music in Vancouver, BC, where he also taught theory and composition from 2015-2019 at the Vancouver Academy of Music. He is currently Co-Artistic Director of Arkora Music.