ANN BENSON made her New York City operatic debut in 1993 in the title role of Puccini’s Tosca for New York City Opera and her New York recital debut at Weil Hall (Carnegie Hall) in 1989. She has performed many popular soprano leading roles including Amelia Un Ballo in Maschera (Connecticut Opera, Peoria Opera and the Des Moines Metro Opera), Violetta La Traviata ( national PBS telecast) Nedda I Pagliacci (Chattanooga Opera), Madama Butterfly (Gala opening opera of the Koger Center, Columbia, SC) both Musetta and Mimi La Boheme ( Opera Company of Mid Michigan), Fiordiligi Cosi fan Tutte, Countess Le Nozze di Figaro, Freia Das Rheingold, Marenka The Bartered Bride, Georgetta Il Tabarro, Rosalinda Die Fledernaus, Gretel Hansel and Gretel, Mother Amahl and the Night Visitors Susannah Polk Susannah; broadcast concert versions of Tosca (Syracuse Symphony) Britten’s War Requiem, Verdi’s Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah (telecast), Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (telecast), Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (Anchorage Symphony) and the complete Les Nuits d’Ete (South Carolina Philharmonic). Other telecasts include Debut: Ann Benson, Soprano and William Schuman’s song cycle Time to the Old in A William Schuman Celebration. She has been featured guest soloist with the Pacific Symphony, Indianapolis Philharmonic, Ann Arbor Symphony, Greenville (SC) Symphony, Augusta Symphony, New Haven Festival Orchestra, NYC’s Hunter College Orchestra, Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Charlotte Philharmonic, Savannah Symphony, Asheville Symphony and Missouri Symphony. She has made a recent transition to mezzo-soprano repertoire and has performed the roles of Desiree in A Little Night Music and Mrs. Lovett in another Sondheim masterpiece, Sweeney Todd. Her popular Kitchen Sink concerts (debuted at the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Opera Learning Center, Lincoln Center, Dec. 2008) with her husband, David Bankston, explore and exploit a full range of vocal performance styles and practices.
Before coming to Coastal Carolina, Dr. Benson served on faculty at Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina where she won the college's 2005 Students’ Choice Award for excellence in teaching. This past year she served on the first in a debut series of small panel discussions and master classes featured in Opera News with Ira Siff, Donna D. Vaughan, Lucy Arner and Jane Marsh for the Metropolitan Opera Guild at Lincoln Center. She is known as a builder of young voices and as a teacher who encourages an individual’s unique sound and full potential in both classical and musical theatre vocal styles.
Dr. Benson is an alumna of Opernhaus Zurich's Internationales Opernstudio, holds a Master's degree from Indiana University and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of South Carolina. She is the founder of MusiCares, a community service project that takes music to Alzheimer patients.