School of Music

Ben Richter

Ben Richter
Ben Richter is a composer, accordionist, and director of Ghost Ensemble. 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. As an accordionist, he draws from experimental improvisation, Deep Listening, and the klezmer tradition. His solo album Panthalassa: Dream Music of the Once and Future Ocean, pairing the title track’s immersive just-intonation accordion soundscape with orchestral and electronic works, was released in 2017 on the Infrequent Seams label; the chamber ensemble work Wind People was featured on Ghost Ensemble’s 2018 debut, We Who Walk Again, on Indexical Records.

In 2012, Ben Richter founded the New York-based experimental chamber group Ghost Ensemble. Ghost Ensemble is dedicated to long-term collaborations with composers to develop new works that explore the act of listening, breaking down traditional barriers between audiences and genres to create experiences of community healing. Ghost’s music engages intuitive processes, fragile and liminal sounds, the physicality of sonic phenomena, and shifting parametrical flux that shifts our attention, awareness, and experience of time. By expanding our horizons and perceptions and encouraging immersive experience, this music demonstrates its potential as a real healing force. 

Ben’s intuitive approach to musical practice bears the influence of his mentor Pauline Oliveros, with whom he collaborated on live performances from 2006 to 2016 and premiered electroacoustic works and research on time distortion at the 2013 and 2014 festivals of the Deep Listening Institute. He was a resident composer at the biennial Ostrava Days festival from 2013 to 2017, and has served as a coordinator and artistic collaborator with SEM Ensemble. He performs often as an improviser and klezmer accordionist, and his diverse collaborations include compositions for Ghost, SEM, Ostravska Banda, and Nieuw Ensemble as well as appearances with The Dresden Dolls, Over A Cardboard Sea, and Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains. 
In addition to Oliveros, Ben’s principal teachers have included Kyle Gann, George Tsontakis, Joan Tower, and Cornelis de Bondt. He studied composition at Bard College and at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where he completed a master’s degree with research on parahypnotic phenomena in music.