Montreal-based percussionist Ben Reimer has been called a “genre-bending wiz” (PuSh), establishing himself as a leading figure in contemporary drumset performance. He has spent the past fifteen years exploring a new role for drumset in the context of through-composed music. During this time Ben has collaborated with award-winning Canadian composer Nicole Lizée. He has premiered four of Nicole’s concertos, multiple chamber works, the influential drumset solo “Ringer” and appeared on numerous recordings. Ben has arranged the solos Liberty by Tony Williams and Spooky Drums by Baby Dodds and was featured in the publication, Drummer’s Journal (4th ed. Aug 2013) and Modern Drummer’s “On The Beat” series (Jan 2018). His album “Katana of Choice – Music for Drumset Soloist” on Redshift Records is “an exhilarating musical ride” (Wholenote) and “a modern classic” (I Care If You Listen). The album features music by Nicole Lizée, Eliot Britton, John Psathas and Lukas Ligeti with guest musicians David Cossin, Architek Percussion and TorQ Percussion Quartet.
Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba Reimer became captivated by the drumset and the music that showcases this instrument at an early age. With his instinctive, natural attraction to collecting music and learning about bands and artists, the sounds of drummers such as Neil Peart (Rush), Larry Mullen Jr. (U2) and Tim Alexander (Primus) fuelled his musical pursuits.
Ben first recorded with his indie rock band The Lanes (frequently landing on !earshot’s college radio charts in Canada) and backed up artists such as soul singers Maiko Watson (Sugar Jones) and Jessee Havey (The Duhks). With Western Canadian Music Award winners, Moses Mayes, Ben played International Jazz Festivals across Canada and others like the 10K Lakes Fest in Detroit Lakes and the Evolve Festival in Nova Scotia.
Shifting his focus towards classical percussion, Ben received a BMus (’00) from McGill University in Montreal and MMus (’01) from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, under the direction of Raymond DesRoches. In 2014, Ben completed a DMus. at McGill University. His main focus of research and performance demonstrated how the drumset, traditionally an improvised instrument, emerged as a solo instrument with prescribed notation. This topic is explored in his dissertation, “Defining the Role of Drumset in Contemporary Music Performance.”
Ben has performed with the Winnipeg Symphony, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Manitoba Theatre Centre and Thunder Bay Symphony. He has participated in the Scotia Festival of Music, Make Music New York, Bang On A Can Summer Music Festival at MassMoca and the Roots and Rhizomes Percussion Residency at the Banff Centre. He has been a guest soloist in the Bang On A Can Marathon, Brandon University “Pro Series”, the Winnipeg International New Music Festival, Edmonton New Music, Calgary New Music, University of Toronto New Music, GroundSwell, Cluster New Music + Integrated Arts Festival, The Little Chamber Music Series That Could, Music on Main, PuSh Festival, Innovations En Concert, live@CIRMMT and Roulette NYC concert series.
As an educator, Ben is an Adjunct Professor at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University. He was the Coordinator of Percussion Studies at Brandon University from 2003-2009 while also teaching a range of performance, music education and music therapy courses at the University of Manitoba and the Canadian Mennonite University. Ben has been a guest clinician at the Manitoba Band Association Summer Band Camp, Quebec Band Association Honour Band, the International Music Camp (International Peace Gardens), Prairie Percussion Camp, Winnipeg DrumTalk and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. Ben also teaches private and group classes at École FACE in downtown Montreal.
Ben Reimer can be heard on other recordings such as: “Bookburners” and “This Will Not Be Televised” by Nicole Lizée (Centredisc), “Pinnacles” by Diana McIntosh (Centredisc), “Inuksuit” by John Luther Adams (Cantaloupe Music) and “A Menacing Plume” by Rand Steiger (New World Records).
Reimer is a member of Architek Percussion and is a Sabian Cymbals, Yamaha Canada and Vic Firth artist.
Q & A
BORN IN: Winnipeg, Manitoba
LIVES IN: Montreal, Quebec
DRUMMING SINCE: 1988
CURRENT BAND/PROJECT(S): Member of Architek Percussion
Neil Peart, Steven Schick, David Cossin (Bang on A Can Allstars), Chris Adler, Aphex Twin, Glenn Kotche.
FAVORITE ALBUM YOU PLAYED ON: “Katana of Choice – Music for Drumset Soloist” My debut solo album released in 2017 on Redshift Records
FAVORITE ALBUM YOU DIDNâ€™T PLAY ON: Acoustica: Alarm Will Sound plays Aphex Twin
FAVORITE SABIAN CYMBAL: 18” Artisan Crash