Whether it’s playing his trumpet, posting to his blog, or traveling the world – Verona’s Benjamin Blinder is out there in the thick of it.
In recapping his life’s work and accomplishments one winter’s evening, his years as a school boy in Maplewood emerge as the most sensible focal point, it was there – after all – that he met his two great loves.
As his fourth grade music instructor went around the room asking each student what instrument they would like to learn, Blinder’s young mind was completely blank. Truth be told, he had no preference. He blurted out “trumpet” simply because it was the instrument that he knew his older next door neighbor played. He had no idea it would get him anywhere, but it did.
Ascending through middle school and into high school, the young Blinder kept with it. In high school, he served as drum major for the marching band and ran the jazz band with a classmate. On his spare time, he worked in the pit for Columbia High School musical performances and was in the horns section for a local band based out of Livingston.
While attending Lehigh University, he again served as drum major and returned to the school even after he had graduated to play the trumpet at alumni events and parades. As he his career jumpstarted, first in technical sales and then later in providing raw materials to cosmetic companies, the desire to play music stuck with him.
Then one day, some 18 years ago, he saw an ad in the paper. The Bloomfield Symphony Orchestra was looking for local musicians to join. He didn’t have to be asked twice.
After several years last in line in the pecking order, playing “third trumpet” for some numbers and sitting out others entirely, he eventually made his way up to first position, where has remained for the past 12 or so years. He speaks of the symphony as if reviewing the stellar report card of his first child – commenting on the quality of his fellow musicians and how the symphony is the longest continuously running orchestra in the state.
In between the symphony’s three annual performances, he offers his talents during the holidays at Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in Verona. More recently, he volunteers his time with Bugles Across America, an organization that provides buglers for the funerals of military veterans when the armed services are unable to send one of their own. Even after volunteering at a few funerals, Blinder is amazed by the difference his and his fellow volunteers’ small gesture makes.
“It’s a tremendous feeling,” he says. “You go there and stand around for a while, but you play “Taps” for 30 seconds and it means so much.”