photo by Kyoung Eun Kang

Brief bio:


Ben Richter is a composer, accordionist, and ensemble director exploring the potential of the act of listening to create experiences of community healing. Inspired by nonhuman forms of consciousness, emergent perceptual horizons, and the metamorphosis of Earth and its lifeforms, Ben’s compositions mark humanity’s transient yet vital role within the immensity of geologic time. As director of Ghost Ensemble, Ben creates innovative new work with a diverse host of experimental performer-composers. The ensemble’s debut LP We Who Walk Again features music by Pauline Oliveros and Sky Macklay alongside Ben’s Wind People, described as “a multifaceted texture that evokes the primeval” (Meg Wilhoite) and “cloudy, mysterious, and dark ... Beckettian in its slow spread” (Brian Olewnick). As a solo performer, Ben explores the extended microtonal and timbral potential of the accordion; immersive just-intonation accordion work Panthalassa: Dream Music of the Once and Future Ocean was hailed by Stephen Smoliar as “likely to offer a profound impact on the very nature of listening.” A student of Pauline Oliveros, Ben holds a BA from Bard College, MM from the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, and DMA from CalArts.


Longer bio:


Ben Richter is a composer, accordionist, and ensemble director exploring the potential of the act of listening to create experiences of community healing, inspired by the primordial Earth, the gradual metamorphosis of continents, emergent perceptual horizons, and nonhuman forms of consciousness. With an ear toward the far reaches of the sonosphere, Ben’s work marks humanity’s transient yet vital role within the immensity of geologic time, sound worlds of constant transformation emerging through sliding timbre gradients and microtonal fluctuations that shift time perception and encourage deep listening.


The founding director of Ghost Ensemble, Ben Richter established the acclaimed ensemble in 2012 in New York as a forum for innovative musical exploration. Dedicated to the creation of new and experimental music through long-term collaboration, Ghost has since premiered 29 new works by a diverse range of composers. George Grella calls Ghost Ensemble’s work “strong music, made with a singular spirit.” Ben Richter’s Wind People, described as a multifaceted texture that evokes the primeval” (Meg Wilhoite, Meg’s New Music Blog), “cloudy, mysterious, and dark ... Beckettian in its slow spread” (Brian Olewnick, Just Outside), and “a massive drone of lapidary detail that thrums, throbs, and glides with surging and ebbing density” (Peter Margasak, Bandcamp Daily), was featured on Ghost Ensemble’s debut LP, We Who Walk Again (2018, Indexical), selected as one of Bandcamp Daily’s “10 Best Contemporary Classical Albums of 2018.”


As an accordionist, Ben Richter has explored the extended timbral and microtonal potential of the instrument through research and composition, improvisation, and collaborations with composers including Pauline Oliveros, Phill Niblock, Ulrich Krieger, Sky Macklay, James Ilgenfritz, Charles Underriner, and Marguerite Brown. Ben has also performed with black metal, folk punk, and klezmer bands and appeared on Gossip Girl and The Dresden Dolls' Live: In Paradise. As a solo performer-composer, Ben Richter creates immersive accordion soundscapes including the album-length multitrack just-intonation composition Panthalassa: Dream Music of the Once and Future Ocean (2017, Infrequent Seams), hailed by Stephen Smoliar (The Rehearsal Studio) as “likely to offer a profound impact on the very nature of listening.”

Performers who have commissioned and premiered Ben Richter’s compositions include SEM Ensemble, Wild Rumpus, Hypercube, Ostravska Banda, Canticum Ostrava, Capella Ornamentata, Nieuw Ensemble, It Nije Ensemble, Duo Van Amsterdam, Toeac, Margaret Lancaster, William Lang, Daniel Costello, Nigel Deane, and Somna M Bulist. Ben has held residencies at I-Park, Arteles Creative Center, and Norton Island, and has been a featured composer at the Deep Listening: Art/Science, Hudebni Soucasnost, NJO Muziekzomer, Grachtenfestival, Experimental Intermedia, and Ostrava Days festivals.


A student of Pauline Oliveros, Ben Richter holds a BA from Bard College, MM from the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, and DMA from CalArts.