Ben Yingst has played music since he was seven years old. He studied several different instruments before deciding to concentrate on bassoon in high school. During that time he played in multiple groups of the Phoenix Symphony Guild Youth Orchestras. He later earned degrees at Arizona State University and the University of Southern California on bassoon. His principal teachers have been Jeffrey Lyman, Judith Farmer, and Bonnie Wolfgang. In addition to the Tucson Symphony, he has played in the Debut Orchestra in Los Angeles, the Phoenix Symphony, the Scottsdale Arts Orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfónica UANL in Monterrey, Mexico, and the West Valley Symphony in Sun City. Ben also sometimes makes appearances with two different mutating-instrumentation chamber groups in the Phoenix area: the Paradise Winds and the Mill Avenue Chamber Players. Besides his performing duties, he has previously worked at Interlochen Center for the Arts as a teaching assistant during their summer camp. He currently teaches bassoon at Glendale Community College.
When did you start playing your instrument? I started bassoon my sophomore year of high school.
Do you play any other instruments? I studied piano for nine years and clarinet for seven years when I was younger, but I don’t play them much anymore.
What advice would you give to kids learning to play your instrument? There’s so much more to it than just “push the right buttons and blow”. And when you’re practicing something challenging, play out. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes loud!
If you could play a different instrument, what would it be? I’m not sure, but it’d probably be one where I don’t have to deal with reeds.
Favorite composers: I’ll limit myself to three, because no one wants to read a dissertation here: Brahms, Mahler, Shostakovich.
Most exciting musical moment: There are many I could say, but here are two. First was when I went to Interlochen Arts Camp the summer after I graduated from high school. In the course of the eight weeks I got to play in both high school orchestras, which were so much better than any ensembles I’d played in to that point. Seeing so many highly-skilled young musicians in one place, and being a part of it, was quite an experience. Second would have to be the first time I subbed in the Phoenix Symphony during my senior year at ASU. Again, it was just the experience of playing in a group of that caliber for the first time. It was nerve-wracking, but the best kind of nerve-wracking.
What might your career be if you hadn’t chosen to be a musician: As long as I’m able to play music for a living, I probably won’t have an answer to that question.
Hobbies: I’ve bowled in leagues for many years. In 2009 I threw my first, and so far only, 300 game. One of these days I’m going to get another one. Just you wait. Also, at any given time I’m usually reading something worthwile, genrally either fiction or philosophy.
Interesting personal fact: I went skydiving once and loved it.
What are your three favorite movies? Like composers, it’s hard to pick just a few. The recently completed Batman trilogy stands out for me. Actually, I really like all of Christopher Nolan’s films.
What good book have you read most recently? The DIM Hypothesis, by Leonard Peikoff.