Boston-based acoustic double-neck guitarist and composer Ian Ethan Case is quickly becoming recognized as “one of the most creative and engaging fingerstyle guitarists in the world” (International Center for Creativity.) Brand new for Fall 2018, his latest live project PORTALS expands on that creativity in the form of his “Photon Symphony”; an intricate system of synchronized projections which enable a large cast of musicians to virtually join him on stage in a unique blend of virtual reality and live performance.
Inspired in part by his many performances in the Boston Museum of Science planetarium, the PORTALS project was primarily born out of Case’s newest album “Earth Suite”, which features twelve musicians from all over the globe and combines elements of arabic, flamenco, jazz, classical, and brazilian music with the energetic minimalism and rhythmic sophistication Case is becoming known for. “A lot of the musicians on the album, and really a lot of musicians today period, are simply not in a position to go on tour for several months at a time, and even if they were, we’re just not at a level yet where we could afford to bring 12 musicians on the road. But I really wanted people to hear these incredibly unique, one-of-a-kind instrumentalists, and I also really want people to hear these songs the way they’re meant to be heard, with the full orchestration.”
Case’s wife, live sound and electronics specialist Stephanie Case, has for years played a crucial role in bringing to life concerts that significantly exceed expectations for a solo performance in terms of sound and scope. “For the past several years we’ve really tried to stretch the solo format as far as possible, and Stephanie has taken live looping and live sound design to the next level in an effort to communicate these songs as fully as we could. But the newer songs really demand the unique qualities of the specific musicians on the album, and we were hungry to break out of the looping box entirely. The constraints we were faced with ended up leading us to this whole new concept for what a live concert experience can be.”
“Some of the most massively inventive musicianship I’ve ever heard/seen” - Don Ross, 2x Winner, US National Fingerstyle Competition
"A sonic feast, an epic journey both aurally and conceptually...Each piece is a mini-symphony that holds the attention fully." - Céline Keating, Minor7th.com
“a fingerstyle-led, world music-inflected, instrumental beauty. It’s a mash up of Andy McKee meets Avishai Cohen with a hint of Four Tet.” - The Guitar Journal
“The first glimpse into a video of the American guitarist presents technical fireworks reminiscent of colleagues like Preston Reed or Andy McKee. Listening more closely, however, reveals many more details: traces of Pat Metheny, jazz improvisation, folk sounds and the musical realization of the American expanse into cleverly arranged songs.” - Gitarre und Bass
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.