Ben Richter :: Composer, Accordionist

Accordionist Ben RichterAccordionist Ben Richter

Ben Richter is a composer, accordionist, multi-instrumentalist, and founding director of New York’s Ghost Ensemble.  

As a solo accordionist, Ben Richter draws from experimental improvisation, traditional klezmer practices, and contemporary chamber music to create atmospheric music that explores a timeless, mystical space at the intersection of memory and imagination. His chamber music explores sound-worlds of constant transformation that combine subtly shifting timbres and sliding microtonal fluctuations to create music that critic George Grella has described as “seek[ing] an altered consciousness … the music sounds like something incomprehensibly massive is passing by, slowly.” 

At Bard College, Ben Richter studied contemporary composition with Joan Tower and George Tsontakis, and klezmer with David Krakauer; meanwhile, iconoclastic composer and writer Kyle Gann introduced him to microtonality and to experimental accordionist Pauline Oliveros, who became a mentor and friend.  As a long-term collaborator with her Deep Listening activities and Petr Kotik’s SEM Ensemble, Ben Richter has participated as a resident composer at Ostrava Days 2013/15 and the 2013/14 Festivals of the Deep Listening Institute. With research focused on parahypnotic phenomena in music, he completed an MM at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in 2012. 

Ben Richter has composed for the American Symphony Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, SEM Ensemble, Nieuw Ensemble, Ostravska Banda, Wild Rumpus, accordion duo Toeac, It Nije Ensemble, New York Miniaturist Ensemble, and Da Capo Chamber Players, and performed with Ghost Ensemble, SEM Ensemble, Pauline Oliveros, Butch Morris, the Surrealist Training Circus, The Dresden Dolls, The Land of Dreams, Over A Cardboard Sea, and Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains.

Born in Appalachia and raised in New England, he lived for many years in New York City and is now based in Berlin.

"Hypnotic and absorbing" — Michael Strickland, San Francisco Civic Center

"A look, perhaps, into a different dimension" — George Grella, New York Classical Review

"The most attractive and most intense experience" — Jan Podracky and Aneta Bendova, OperaPlus Czech Republic

Experimental Accordion Works

Accordion Improvisations

Piano Improvisations

Chamber and Orchestral Works