May 17, 1923 - July 6,2009
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Residents of the desert since 1985, the Benachowskis were first active in a variety of local musical venues, then in 1989 took the helm of The Desert Symphony. Marilyn, pictured at the right with Maestro and Gloria Loring, guest artist during the 2002-2003 season, is co-concertmaster of the Symphony, which over the years has performed with veritable Who's Who from the world of music; Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Harry Connick Jr., Andy Williams, Dionne Warwick, Smokey Robinson, Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice, Ray Charles, the Paul Whitman Grouo, John Tesh, Kay Ballard, Hal Linden, John Novacek and Gloria Loring. Maestro benachowski has received a California Legislature Assembly Proclamion commending him for his talents and achievements in bringing music to young children. He was appointed to the Indian Wells Arts Commision in 1993. He has had the honor of presenting the Symphony's Amadeus Award to Del Scharbutt, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Jack Jones.
The Desert Symphony
A native Michigan, Edwin R Benachowski ("Ben" to his friends and associates) has an extensive and rich background in classical and other musical genres. Throughout his early schooling, he won many awards for his musicianship and virtuosity on the clarinet.
After his military discharge, Maestro Benachowski received a scholarship to the renowned Juilliard School of Music. Here he had a wonderful advantage of studying with distinguished conductors as Walter Hendel, Dean Dixen, Maestro Bromberg at the Mannes School of Music, Roy Harris, Thor Johnson and Aram Khachaturian. On addition, he met his wife of 57 years, Marilyn, at Juilliard. After graduating Julliiard in 1949 with a performance diploma, the Maestro continued his education, graduating Columbia university with a bachelor of Science in 1950 and a masters degree in 1951.
In Memory of
Edwin R Benchowski
Copyright © The Desert Symphony 2016
The Maestro received a full scholarship to Wayne University in 1941, and had the good fortune to play under the baton of Percy Grainger. He enlisted in the US Army Air Force in 1943, becoming a band master and touring the Midwest with Singing Cowboy Gene Audry and his sidekick Pat Buttram. His tour of duty included the South Pacific entertaining the troops with such legends as Danny kaye, Gracie Fields and Leo Durocher.
Maestro Benachowski was given a 2002 "Service to the Arts Award" by the Coachella Valley Arts Alliance in recognition of his artistic service community. In the same year, he received a commendation letter from the President of Juilliard , Joseph Polisi, recognizing his outstanding years of dedicated service to the desert communities in helping make the arts a vital part of people's lives. The commendation included recognition of the Symphony's Children Discovery Series at the McCallum Theatre over the past ten years, and furthering of young people's music education with the Symphony Scolarship Program. I 2003 the City of Indian Wells recognized Maestro Benachowski as an outstanding citizen and cultural leader with a proclamation from the mayor, the Honarable Robert A. Bernheimer. In 2005, the Maestro and Marilyn were joint recipients of the prestigious Sol Aztec ("Aztec Sun") Award at the 9th Annual International Hispanic Awards. Sponsored by the newspaper La Prensa Hispana, the award recognizes "individuals who often inspire quietly and contribute to the Hispanic community with their time and knowledge"
He was appointed supervisor of Music Education in the City of Oceanside, Long Island, and together with Marilyn owned and operated a professional music school, enabling hundreds of talented students access to Juilliard and other prestigious universities. His schedule during this period also included recordings, nightclubs and Broadway reviews, and he held the position of Choir master at St. Anthony's Shrine.Maestro benachowski's "His Hymn" composed to honor St Anthony, is standard repertoire for choirs today