The Jeffrey Thomas Award

Gabriel Benton, harpsichord
2022 Recipient

The American Bach Soloists are pleased to announce the recipient of the 2022 Jeffrey Thomas Award which is granted annually at the Artistic Director’s discretion to honor, recognize, and encourage exceptionally gifted emerging professionals in the field of Early Music who show extraordinary promise and accomplishment.

Gabriel Benton

GABRIEL BENTON enjoys a multifaceted career as a harpsichordist, organist, accompanist, and teacher. He began his relationship with ABS as a participant in the 2015 Academy, when he played in the American premiere of Marais’ opera Sémélé. Since then, he has joined ABS on many occasions including performances of Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion, three recording projects, and as a soloist in Bach’s Triple Concerto in A Minor. Sought after both as a continuo player and soloist, he regularly appears with a variety of ensembles across the country. Past collaborations include performances with La Speranza, Sonnambula, The Serafins, American Baroque Orchestra, New World Symphony, and Venice Opera Project, among others.

He began his life in music with a toy piano as a toddler. His parents took notice, got a real piano, and signed him up for piano lessons. It wasn’t until he was a teenager that he first encountered historically informed performances and was immediately obsessed. His love for early music, and especially for the creativity it requires of the performer, led him to study harpsichord performance at Oberlin Conservatory and The Juilliard School, as well as organ performance at Yale. Gabe has been the recipient of several awards including first place in the York Symphony Orchestra Youth Concerto Competition, the Earl Russel Award in historical performance, the Charles Ives organ scholarship, and two summer workshop scholarships from Early Music America.

Gabe lives in Wilmington, Delaware where he is the director of music at a historic church as well as a teacher and accompanist for the Choir School of Delaware. When he can find time away from work, performing, practicing, teaching, and maintaining his harpsichord, Gabe loves riding his bike and exploring new corners of the Chesapeake Bay on his sailboat. 

Gabriel Benton

Inaugurated in 2013, the Jeffrey Thomas Award was created by the American Bach Soloists in celebration of their first 25 years of ABS Artistic & Music Director Jeffrey Thomas’s tenure of inspired leadership. The Jeffrey Thomas Award takes its place within the organization’s already robust and long history of rewarding young talent. 


Gabriel Benton, harpsichord

Tomà Iliev, violin
YuEun Gemma Kim, violin
Rachell Ellen Wong, violin

Sarah Coit, mezzo-soprano

Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, countertenor

Jude Ziliak, violin

Eric Jurenas, countertenor

Tatiana Chulochnikova, violin

Gretchen Claassen, violoncello

Guy Cutting, tenor

The American Bach Soloists and Henry I. Goldberg 
Young Artists Competition


In 1998, in conjunction with the Fifth Biennial Berkeley Festival & Exhibition, the American Bach Soloists established the International Young Artists Competition as a way to foster emerging musicians who wish to pursue a career in early music. In 2006, the competition was named the American Bach Soloists & Henry I. Goldberg International Young Artists Competition, in memory of Dr. Henry I. Goldberg, who served as Board President for the ensemble from 2002 until September 2005. In addition, the First Prize is named in honor of the inestimable legacy of Laurette Goldberg, a leading force in the Bay Area's early music community for many years.

To ensure the broadest scope in this endeavor, from year to year the competitions have focused on different instruments, attracting musicians from around the globe. The first competition, in 1998, was for harpsichord. Violin took the spotlight in 2000, followed by flute and oboe in 2002. The competition was postponed in 2004. The 2006 competition was for vocalists, and the 2008 competition was for violinists.

In 2010, competition award funds were offered as a Goldberg Prize to three promising participants of the American Bach Soloists ACADEMY, an advanced training program for emerging professionals and accomplished students of Historically Informed Performance Practice. In 2011, the Competition and special prizes were suspended in favor of funding scholarships for the Academy.

Previous Winners

2008 Violin
Andrew Fouts (First Prize)
Johanna Novom (First Prize)
Marc Levine

2006 Vocalists
Ian Howell, countertenor (First Prize)
Derek Chester, tenor
Joshua Copeland, baritone
Yulia Van Doren, soprano

2002 Flute & Oboe
Amy Guitry, flute (First Prize)
Debra Nagy, oboe (First Prize)
Christopher Milan Palameta, oboe

2000 Violin
Simos Papanas (First Prize)
Emily Fowler
Heidi Powell

1998 Harpsichord
Michael Sponseller (First Prize)
Corey Jamason
Ho-Sun Moon
Heidi Tsai


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