Benji Inniger is making some beautiful music
When Benji Inniger isn’t teaching courses such as music communication and Technology or Advanced Topics in Theatre, the Bethany Lutheran College associate professor of theater is busy sharing his skills as a composer, sound designer and recording engineer.
The North Mankato resident not only composes adaptive scores for theater productions, musical soundtracks and sound design for video games and films, he also composes recordings for bands and ensembles such as The Divers, The Bekesh Trio, and the Summit Avenue Music Series.
“I have been doing music and theater productions for most of my life,” shared Inniger. “I began college as a music major, but ultimately found my niche writing music for plays, which combined multiple interests very nicely.”
Innigers’ training includes a Bachelors of Arts from Bethany Lutheran College and an MFA in Theatre Arts from Minnesota State University. He honed his skills by participating in the Broadway Sound Workshops in New York, the Hollywood Music Workshop in Austria, the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology.
Inniger said by learning more about sound design he was able to see the technological possibilities with music and sound, which included recording.
“Ultimately, these interests complement each other well and hopefully can equip me to work well in a variety of situations,” he added.
Inniger doesn’t consider himself a performer, as he prefers working behind the scenes.
“In composing, there are few greater joys than experiencing great musicians breathing life into your music or witnessing an audience pulled further into a moment in a theater production that has all of the elements firing on all cylinders,” he said.
He has been able to share his directing skills not only at Bethany Lutheran College, but at Minnesota State University and around the state.
“It is a thrilling experience to try to access and coordinate all of the various elements and personalities that need to come together to make a good play,” said Inniger.
While some artists have a sure method of inspiration to fuel their work, Inniger just lets things happen.
“Most of the time, I don’t really know what any music is going to be until I sit down to make it,” he said.
Inniger also listens to other composers and artists, as well as podcasts, to jumpstart his creativity.
“Ultimately, when I’m writing, it boils down to the emotional content of the story I am trying to support and how best to represent that,” he added.
In addition to working on four video games for Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox, Inniger is collaborating with the Mankato Symphony Orchestra.
“They will be performing a few of my original works and arrangements this upcoming season, for which I am so thankful and thrilled, and I hope to continue to work with them into the future,” he said.
His future compositions also include scores for a few burgeoning short films, two plays for the next theater season at Bethany, and a concert of his original works in October at Trinity Chapel.
“I have definitely seen my music mature and become more complex over the years,” he said. “I think part of that is due just to life experience. As we get older, we have more to draw upon and more practice in finding different ways to express what we want to express.”