Ben Richter is an experimental composer, accordionist, and director of Ghost Ensemble. Inspired by nonhuman consciousness, Richter’s compositions orient toward new orders of magnitude in musical parameters to auralize the vast and infinitesimal timescales we do not experience in everyday life, often employing just intonation, gradual fluctuations in timbre, and pitch relationships approaching the liminal space at which harmonic interval becomes audible beating rate at near-unison. With an ear toward the far reaches of the sonosphere, Ben’s work explores the potential of the act of listening to create experiences of community healing, marking humanity’s transient yet vital role within the immensity of geologic time.
The founding Artistic and Executive Director of Ghost Ensemble, Ben Richter established the acclaimed ensemble in 2012 as a forum for innovative musical exploration. Dedicated to the creation of new and experimental music through long-term collaboration, Ghost has since premiered a broad variety of 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 among Bandcamp Daily’s “10 Best Contemporary Classical Albums of 2018.”
As an accordionist, Richter explores preparations and techniques that expand the instrument’s microtonal and timbral capacities, harnessed in original works and long-term collaborations with composers including Elizabeth Adams, Marguerite Brown, Carolyn Chen, Nomi Epstein, James Ilgenfritz, Ulrich Krieger, Catherine Lamb, Sky Macklay, Miya Masaoka, Phill Niblock, Pauline Oliveros, Michael Pisaro, Teodora Stepančić, and Charles Underriner. 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's accordion works include the just-intonation accordion quintet 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 Loadbang, House On Fire Trio, SEM Ensemble, Wild Rumpus, Hypercube, Ostravska Banda, Canticum Ostrava, Capella Ornamentata, Nieuw Ensemble, It Nije Ensemble, Duo Van Amsterdam, Toeac, Music For Your Inbox, Jeonghyeon Joo, Margaret Lancaster, William Lang, Daniel Costello, Nigel Deane, and Somna M Bulist. Ben has held residencies at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation, Hambidge, I-Park, Arteles Creative Center, and Norton Island, and has been a featured composer at the Deep Listening: Art/Science, Experimental Intermedia, Grachtenfestival, Hudebni Soucasnost, Infrequent Seams, NJO Muziekzomer, On Distant Keys, and Ostrava Days festivals.
A student of Pauline Oliveros and active Deep Listening teacher and researcher, Ben Richter holds a BA from Bard College, MM from the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, and Performer-Composer DMA from CalArts, has taught at CalArts and CUNY-New York City College of Technology, and serves as music/sound curator of UMass-Amherst’s Futuring Lab.