Ben Cosgrove is a traveling composer, pianist, and multi-instrumentalist from New England. He performs regularly all over the country, writes scores for films, plays, radio, and television, and has produced several well-received albums of original instrumental work that straddles a line between folk and classical music. His “electric and exhilarating” live performances are at once dazzling and intimate: music that has been described as “stunning” and as “compelling and powerful,” all presented with warmth, honesty, and “the easy familiarity of a troubadour.”
From 2012 to 2014 Ben served as the Signet Artist-in-Residence Fellow at Harvard University, and he is a recipient of a St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award. He has also held residencies and fellowships at Acadia National Park, Isle Royale National Park, Middlebury College, the Vermont Studio Center, the Schmidt Ocean Institute, and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, and he spent a year as the artist in residence at White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and Maine.
The strongest forces guiding Ben’s composition and performances are his deep interests in landscape, place, and ecology. For years, Ben has been fascinated and inspired by the different ways people interact with their built and natural environments, and through songs with names like “Prairie Fire,” “Little Rain,” “Nashua,” “Sigurd F. Olson,” and others, he seeks to explore those relationships and reflect them in sound. “I don’t think of my pieces as rendering places in music,” he notes in an interview in Harvard Magazine, “but more just as responding to places musically. Writing music just turns out to be a great way for me to process the world.”
In 2014, Ben released Field Studies, his first full-length studio offering since 2011′s Yankee Division, which focused specifically on the environment of north-central New England. The music on Field Studies looks through a broader lens, considering the human experience of many dramatically varied physical landscapes across North America. Different sections of the album utilize field recordings, innovative arrangements, and elegantly interwoven melodies to evoke deserts, wilderness lakes, prairies, mountain ranges, coastlines, and sprawling suburbs all in turn. In one piece, swirling arpeggios capture the disorientation of a fast drive across the plains; in another, murmuring dissonances suggest the swell of the tide. Taken as a whole, the record and the performances Cosgrove has given in the wake of its release offer an intimate aural tour of the continent and a unique expression of place. At the end of 2014, Sound of Boston named Field Studies one of the best local albums released that year. The following year, he released Solo Piano, a collection of live performances recorded in an unusual array of performance spaces — clubs, forests, a theater, a ferry, a living room, a bar, a national park, and more — all around the country.