Hometown: New York City
Awards: Class of 2016 Junior Phi Beta Kappa
Memorable Performance Experiences: Richmond Jazz Festival, Masten Jazz Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival
Favorite Spot on Campus: Music Performance Program Office
By the time he enrolled at the College, jazz pianist and composer Benjamin Rosenblum CC’16 had already performed at music festivals throughout the Northeast and one in New Delhi, written a commissioned jazz piece for the XIBUS World Orchestra in Boston and received the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, which recognizes composers under 30.
As an undergraduate, Rosenblum continued to hone his skills and bolster his credentials as a pianist. He was accepted into the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange as a junior, which allowed him to receive weekly jazz piano instruction at Juilliard in addition to his lessons at Columbia, and in 2015 and 2016, respectively, he was a finalist at the American Jazz Pianist Competition in Melbourne, Fla., and the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition.
A John Jay Scholar, Rosenblum, who has been playing the piano since he was 5, was introduced to jazz when he was around 10 and became enthralled by the musical freedom and flexibility it allows. “I’d always enjoyed sitting at the piano with no music and playing, and I found out that that was jazz was all about — making stuff up and improvising,” says Rosenblum, who draws inspiration from an array of musical genres.
Eager to promote jazz at Columbia, in 2014 Rosenblum founded Jazz House, a Special Interest Community that occupies half of the first floor of River Hall. Jazz House residents put on concerts, jam sessions and other programming for the Columbia community and also benefit from the camaraderie that comes with living with fellow musicians. “It’s really cool to see that people know what Jazz House is and to have Jazz House become a presence on campus,” says Rosenblum.
After graduation, Rosenblum plans to devote himself to teaching piano while continuing to perform. His first teaching experience came at The Child School/Legacy H.S. on Roosevelt Island, a charter school for children with learning disabilities, where he taught weekly from 2011 to 2014. He currently teaches private students and volunteers with Musical Mentors Collaborative, a New York City-based nonprofit that offers one-on-one music lessons at public elementary schools.
For Rosenblum, one of the most rewarding parts of being a jazz musician is interacting with other artists, established and aspiring. “Getting to know someone through music is a very deep bond,” he says. “Jazz has allowed me to make connections with people I would have never met otherwise — people from different backgrounds, cultures and countries, and different ages.”
— Nathalie Alonso CC’08