changes people,” said Rogers. “If you’re willing — if you allow yourself to
become vulnerable, to really hear what’s being so masterfully communicated
without words, necessarily — it changes you.”
philosophy is what makes Rogers proud to be a musician, and he will be
graduating at the top of his class from the DePaul University School of Music
with a Bachelor of Music in music performance for cello.
people don’t get to experience really powerful, beautiful music every day,”
said Rogers. “But fortunately, I do, and I get to be part of the creation of
that and affect people.”
might never guess the profundity of Rogers’ passion for music from just a first
impression. He is a relaxed and gifted conversationalist whose approach to
music may seem, at first, blasé. When asked why he chose the cello, he replied
that he wasn’t quite sure, having chosen the instrument in fourth grade. “I
think I basically just wanted the biggest one,” said Rogers.
laid-back attitude, however, belies a torrent of passion, knowledge and interest.
He will talk at length about his experiences with music and its importance to
the world, with an enthusiasm he owes in part to his inspirational instructors.
transferred to DePaul from the University of Tennessee after receiving a lesson
from DePaul’s Stephen Balderston, whose influence and instruction in particular
shaped his development as a cellist. When asked, the proud professor had nothing
but praise for his protégé. “Ben is a wonderful student: bright, inquisitive,
creative and motivated,” said Balderston. “He has a very musical soul and
always strives to be the best possible musician and artist he can be. Working
with him has been an engaging and fulfilling activity.”
Learning from a
wasn’t the only cellist who inspired Rogers along the way. In his senior year
at DePaul, Rogers had the opportunity to perform with one of the biggest names
in his field. “I applied for a master class opportunity with the legendary
cellist Lynn Harrell, but I wasn’t sure if I would get it,” said Rogers. “I
figured that I would just send in my application and see what happens, but then
I was selected to perform. That was definitely one of the most
nerve-wracking and humbling experiences I’ve ever had.”
was most fascinating about this class, however, was that Rogers had only been one degree of separation from
the legendary cellist to begin with. Balderston, who taught Rogers at DePaul,
was a former pupil of Harrell’s.
Harrell was actually my teacher’s (Balderston’s) teacher, from back at Julliard
where he started. It was cool to see the lineage of my instruction,” said
Musician on a mission
is endlessly motivated to improve, and he never stops looking for new ways to
excel. He believes part of that comes from the company he keeps.
thrive when I am surrounded by stronger musicians. I can see what people do
better than I do, because then I can adapt that to myself and improve,” said
journey as a musician has brought him from private lessons as a teenager to the
University of Tennessee and then to DePaul. His next challenge awaits in Ohio:
Ben was accepted into the Cleveland Institute of Music’s graduate program.
goal for the future is simple: “I just want to become a more excellent cellist
at this point.” Graduating from DePaul is hardly the finale for his personal
pursuit of musical excellence — it’s the next movement of the symphony, full of
possibilities and potential.
Read more stories from the class of 2016.