Ben Richter is a composer, accordionist, and founding director of Ghost Ensemble, a New York-based collective dedicated to performances of experimental and experiential music. His music is concerned with states of consciousness, the intersection of memory and imagination, and the evolution of worlds and beings. His chamber works often explore the perceptual experience of music through subtly shifting timbres, distant pulses, and sliding microtonal fluctuations, which combine to create sound-worlds of constant transformation that critic George Grella has described as “a look, perhaps, into a different dimension … the music sounds like something incomprehensibly massive is passing by, slowly.”
A former student of Pauline Oliveros, Ben Richter has collaborated on live performances with Oliveros individually and with Ghost Ensemble. He has also composed works for the American Symphony Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, Nieuw Ensemble, Ostravska Banda, Wild Rumpus, Da Capo Chamber Players, accordion duo Toeac, It Nije Ensemble, and New York Miniaturist Ensemble. Since 2012, as coordinator and collaborator with Petr Kotik’s SEM Ensemble, he has composed, performed, and curated events with SEM. He was a resident composer at Ostrava Days 2013 and 2015, and presented new electroacoustic works Destabilization and Panthalassa at the 2013 and 2014 festivals of the Deep Listening Institute. He also creates recorded electronic music and musical scores for film and theater, and has presented immersive sound installations at exhibitions in the United States, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
In addition to performing solo and with Ghost Ensemble and SEM, Ben Richter has played accordion with contemporary ensembles (Butch Morris Ensemble, Wandelweiser Composers Ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players) and rock and jazz bands (The Dresden Dolls, The Music Tapes, The Land of Dreams, Over A Cardboard Sea, Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains). He performs frequently as a klezmer musician, having studied with David Krakauer, and also composed and performed for the productions of the Surrealist Training Circus, of which he was musical director from 2005 to 2008. More recent composer-performer collaborations include solo, duo, and trio works with trombonist William Lang, violinist Saara Wallraf, bassist James Ilgenfritz, pianists Keiko Shichijo and Joshua Waldron, and harpists Lucia Stavros and Somna M Bulist, as well as members of Ghost Ensemble, SEM Ensemble, and the Deep Listening community.
Ben Richter studied composition at Bard College, where his principal teachers included George Tsontakis, Joan Tower, and Kyle Gann, and at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where he completed a master’s degree with research focused on parahypnotic phenomena in music. His published scholarly articles include Composing the Peak Experience and Time Distortion in Deep Listening. Born in Pittsburgh and raised in New England, he lived for five years in New York, where he taught music technology and composition at CUNY and The Young People’s Institute. He is now based in Berlin.
“Farther Reaches” for orchestra, world premiere by Ostravska Banda at Ostrava Days, 31 August 2013, conducted by Ondrej Vrabec.
fear not becoming invisible
:: fear not becoming invisible :: for flute, oboe, clarinet in B flat / bass clarinet, mandolin, guitar, harp, piano, percussion, violin, viola, cello, and contrabass; performed by the Nieuw Ensemble, conducted by Gijs Kremers. Recorded and mastered by Hisashi Ishihara.