Benjamin is a musician and artist from Ithaca, NY. He works in a variety of genres and mediums and enjoys the human connections that music and art facilitate.
After growing up in Elmira, NY, Benjamin attended Ithaca College as a B.F.A. Musical Theatre performance major. He performed in mainstage shows and also served as the assistant director for “The Pajama Game” (Ithaca College) and “The Rakes Progress” (Ithaca Opera Company) under director Earl McCarroll. After his freshman year, Benjamin created a major in the planned studies program called “Direction of the Musical Stage” – a combination of theatrical direction, acting, voice, piano, conducting, and arranging. Benjamin produced and performed in staged readings of Stephen Sondheim’s “Passion” and “Sunday in the Park with George” as a collaboration with long-time friend and musical partner, Christopher Zemliauskas. The two composed the music for an off-broadway show called “Dissection” and Benjamin also composed the music for “A New Home for Sarah” which has been performed at various regional theaters in the northeast. Benjamin performed the role of “Young Mark Twain” in “Mark Twain the Musical” before the show moved from NY to Hartford, CT. During this time, Benjamin also composed the score for several small film projects.
After graduation, Benjamin took a hiatus from music and returned to the public with his emergence as a singer-songwriter – creating and playing music in the folk/pop/acoustic style. In 2006 he released his first album of original music, “Start Again Tomorrow” and plans to release his second album, “Today” in early 2018.
Over the years, Benjamin also cultivated his skills as a designer and digital artist. Recently he has begun to create sculpture in stone, and is enjoying the tactile experience that isn’t afforded by digital creation. Most recently, Benjamin has re-entered the world of musical theatre and actively participates with the MT community on the app “Smule Sing!”. He is in the early stages of writing a new musical now and is happy to once again collaborate with his friend Christopher who has returned to the area.
Music has always been in my life — singing 4-part harmonies with the family as a small child, figuring out guitar and piano, rocking in a teen band, playing and singing songs as the only way to get girls to notice me, some community and professional musical theatre, and then to my music major in College.
There I discovered my love of music direction, conducting, and composition — but singing will always be my greatest love. This is when I did most of my collaborative work with Christopher Zemliauskas — he is still my best friend. We even wrote a musical that was performed off-broadway – life was incredible and the future seemed limitless.
After graduation, my path led me away from my music, and eventually, it led me away from who I am, and with that my music was no more.
Too many years later, I had a bold idea – to try to play a bunch of Radiohead songs acoustically. It was an exercise, partly to unlearn my classical training, but also to re-learn who I am. I got noticed, and through it, I started to play more.
Soon I wrote my first song — “Fall” — this time the narrative was my own life and feelings, not a character in a script. And as I crawled up out of the muck and grasped for understanding and reason, I wrote more, which after a four-year process yielded my first album, “Start Again Tomorrow.”
After proving to myself that I could do that — make something that is meaningful — I wanted more. I was hungry for greater exposure, success, outreach, and connection. I spent years dreaming of a life where I could leave behind my day job and be a full-time musician — write, perform, and record.
I have always said “the success or failure of any thing in life is intrinsically linked to the expectations that you have for it.” Despite this, it took me a long time to realize that while I was dreaming of this other life, I was missing the one I was actually living — the amazing people, listeners, and opportunities.
So, now I am in a new place. I am a bit of a stranger in a strange land when it comes to the music industry. I have rediscovered my love of musical theatre and have been singing every day. Maybe I am not good enough to “make it” — maybe I’m too old, too overweight, too sentimental. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter anymore.
I am Benjamin Costello, and I make art and music, because it is who I am.
My dream now is to be genuine — to play and sing what feels right, to share generously and hope that through it, I can connect to wonderful people — I don’t care if it’s 30 people or 30 million — touching one person with my music is more rewarding and meaningful than the number of followers I have on Twitter.
Welcome to my site, and to my music. It is really nice to meet you 🙂