Home > Events > Ben Van Winkle and the Figment

Ben Van Winkle and the Figment

Ben Van Winkle and the Figment
Ben Van Winkle and the Figment


February 17, 2024




Walker Theatre



$10 - $45

Save 10% on this performance by becoming a CSO Subscriber >

Doors: 6:30 PM
Concert: 7:30 PM

Local composer and singing-cellist Ben Van Winkle and his group of unique instrumentalists (The Figment) are joined by CSO musicians on the Walker Theater stage for one night only! Ben Van Winkle and The Figment make music in the moment, inspiring human connection through luscious textures, improvisation, and music that speaks to the soul. His music has been described as a seamless blend of Ravel's orchestration, John Mayer's song writing, and Disney's story driven melodies. Ignite your imagination, inspire your emotions, and connect to the universal human experience with Ben Van Winkle and The Figment!

Don't forget your phone or smart device to access our Digital Program Book at the concert!
Learn more about the CSO Digital Program Book >

Or, download and print this Program Book PDF before the performance.
Download printable PDF >

Act I - A Medley
Falling Leaves 
Driving Buddy 
New Shoe 

Insatiable desire 
Goddess Waltz
Only Time
Tentation Infinie 
Fall Too Hard 
I Don't Need It 
Tempted By the Effort 
Stay a While 

Act III - Alive
Time to Be Alive
Some Would Say 
Everything is Energy  
Blur and Beach 
Have a Good Time 
Real You

Program notes:

Act I - A Medley
The first act consists of a selection of music that Van Winkle has released as well as a couple of short orchestral works. This act will start with a purely orchestral work called “Falling Leaves” which depicts the graceful dance of leaves as they first fall from the tree in autumn. After that many of the songs in this medley are from Van Winkle's debut album “Saunter On” except for "Arkai" which is another purely orchestral piece and "Garden" which was Van Winkle's first single.

The second act to be performed on this program is a suite of music called "MYTHS" that Van Winkle intends to record and release as an album. Each of the songs in this set of music is an allegory to an ancient Greek myth. Inspired by Carl Jung's idea of the need for all of us to find our “personal myth” that lives in each of our lives, Van Winkle attempts to represent these timeless stories with circumstances and emotional experiences from his own life, and that he has witnessed in the lives of others.

The first piece in this set, dubbed “Insatiable Desire”, depicts the story of Euripides and Demeter where, for punishment for cutting down a tree sacred to her, Demeter curses Euripides to have insatiable hunger no matter how much he eats. Van Winkle relates this to the feeling he suspects we all feel from time to time where we just cannot satisfy ourselves no matter how much we eat. Following this is the short "Goddess Waltz" where our dancer, Adrienne Ziarkowsky is first introduced.

The next short installment, dubbed “Only Time” is told from the perspective of Chronos when he realizes that he's planted the seed for all of the future and the only way to see how it will unfold is to let time pass. This is tied closely with the scientific idea, spearheaded by Stephen Wolfram, of computational irreducibility, where there are no shortcuts in the chaotic system that is our universe, it must unfold on its own.

After that is a bubbly song called “Daffodils”. This song depicts the untold happy ending of Echo and Narcissus. In the classic myth, Echo is cursed to only be able to repeat the words of other people, and Narcissus, after treating Echo poorly because of this, is cursed to fall in love with the reflection of himself that he sees in the water. After years and years, a daffodil grows in his place  (This is where we get the scientific name for the flower, Narcissus!) In the song the characters explore their powers of reflection and use them to fall in love with each other, Narcissus reflects the way echo moves and Echo imitates the way he sings.

The next myth to be represented in song is the myth of "Tantalus" told in Van Winkle's "Tentation Infinie". According to the myth, Tantalus is cursed to be forever hungry and thirsty but with fruit a water just out of reach. The more that he reaches for the fruit on the fruit tree the further it goes away, and the more he attempts to drink the water just at his feet, the further it recedes. Van Winkle relates this to romantic relationships that seem to become more and more impossible as one falls more and more in love.

Next we have "Fall Too Hard" which represents the myth of Icarus, who, despite being warned, flew too close to the sun and his wings burned which caused him to fall. Van Winkle relates this to how with many things in life, we are tempted to "see for ourselves", and sometimes being told not to do something only makes us want to do it even more.

In the next song, “I don't need it”, Van Winkle relates the process of getting over an addiction, or getting out of a harmful dependent relationship, to the myth of Hecate, who is sometimes known as the Goddess of Boundaries.

The next "Tempted by the Effort" represents the myth of Sisyphus who is tasked with pushing a boulder to the top of a hill every day for eternity where it inevitably rolls back down to the bottom for him to push it again. Despite this, Sisyphus is not miserable, which is similar to how we can find the meaning and purpose in work itself and in the suffering that we experience in pursuit of the goal, not necessarily the goal itself.

The last song in this suite of music, "Stay A While" represents the myth of Eros and Psyche. The song depicts the ending of that myth where, after a long period of mutual betrayal and lack of trust, the two forgive each other and Eros offers that Psyche join him and live in the sky with the gods for eternity. The song depicts two lovers who haven't seen each other for quite some time who realize their mistakes, and commit that they have learned from them and that they are ready to give unbounding love to the other to the end of time.

Act III - Alive
The third act of this concert will comprise music that will go on to become an album called “Alive”.  This suite of music explores many of the different psychological and emotional experiences involved with being a human. The act starts with an “Introduction” which seems to be a passionate explosion into reality. One could see this as the big bang or an awakening of sorts. The second song, “Time to be Alive”, depicts a gathering of friends coming together to celebrate. Certain gatherings can feel magical and give a sense of synergy to all the people who are there. This song is about that feeling, about sharing the present moment with others, about celebrating each other and the life we share together. “Some Would Say” muses about the idea that humans often are drawn to idols. So much so that they can create them knowingly just so they have someone or something to ground them and unite them. The song toys with the possibility of this being a beneficial and good thing in spite of the blatant delusional nature of it. The song “Everything is Energy” explores the theory that every piece of matter is made-up of the same thing, energy, and how there's nothing that separates each of us and every inanimate object we encounter. It questions the definition of life and asks if the universe itself is alive. “Blur and Beach”, a lyric-less piece designed to provide Ben with a deep soundscape for him to channel inner expression thru his improvised cello playing and singing. “Figment” questions what happens to all the different versions of ourselves that are lost to us every time we make a decision. Perhaps the alternate versions of ourselves go on to exist without us. Perhaps we have a sense for this extra dimension, and perhaps our decisions are influenced by our awareness of the multiple outcomes that can transpire from every moment. “Have a Good Time” Depicts the scene of someone at their deathbed reflecting on their life and coming to the conclusion that with all its ups and downs it's been a good life. They are happy knowing that they have experienced life in all of its exciting and also mundane forms, because perhaps when one transcends into everything-ness those experiences become invaluable memories that distinguish the soul from everything else. Although it is an intensely emotional experience they accept their fate and look forward to whatever is on the other side of death. “Real You” is a song about expression. It simply states that, when it comes down to it, people seem to appreciate genuine expression in others. Often we are so focused on how the outside sees us that we forget to see ourselves from the inside. This song is simply reminding us to dance confidently and disregard the opinions of the people watching, and to focus only on the movement of our bodies themselves.

Ben Van Winkle | cello, vocals