Benjamin Stalder

Pitch perfect

May 27, 2024

Student Experience

Benjamin Stalder has perfect pitch and can play instruments by ear.

“I can hear a piece of music and replicate it without seeing the notes,” said the rising senior. This rare ability was discovered when he was younger and he started playing guitar. By the time he was 8 years old, he had transitioned to the piano. “My piano teacher would often remark that what I played sounded great, but it wasn’t on the page,” Stalder recounted.

He plays four instruments proficiently, and picks up others here and there, sings tenor, and regularly composes. It’s no surprise that he wanted to pursue music when he came to the University of Richmond, but he also had an interest in business. Before enrolling, Stalder talked to several advisors to be sure he could complete dual degrees in music and business in four years, a unique opportunity he found at UR.

Stalder found his place on campus in both the business school and music department and soon became involved in campus ministries through the Chaplaincy, lending his musical knowledge and talent to Catholic Mass and seasonal programming.

Through it all, he finds a common theme of service and leadership.

“I just started a course on choral conducting and am finding many similarities in business,” he said. “We focus on the importance of leadership, directing, and guiding an ensemble, how people react to input, and organizational behavior. It all pairs very nicely.”

Before the holidays, Stalder helped organize Lend Thy Light, a holiday service meant to provide a time of reflection and remembrance for students and campus community members. He arranged a medley of 35 songs, which he played continuously for the 60-minute program.

He loves sharing his passions and putting what he’s learned into practice. Last summer, he interned with a music academy near his hometown of Pittsburgh, which provides a musical preparatory program to help high school students identify college paths. He plans to submit some of his compositions to a publisher soon, hoping to share his music with a broader audience. 

Stalder has composed about 20 pieces to date. “A lot of my pieces take time to develop,” he said. “When I have an idea, I’ll write it down, then it will stay dormant for a while before I bring it back out for another look.” 

This summer, Stalder will follow the path of a long line of accountants in his family who interned at PwC’s Pittsburgh office.

He credits Ivan Feldman, a visiting professor of accounting, for solidifying an interest in the field. “I loved the first accounting class I took with him. He set me on this path. Four semesters later, we often converse in the hallways and catch up. I think that’s a hallmark of the business school.”