Ben Cosgrove is a composer, pianist, and multi-instrumentalist based in Cambridge, MA. He performs regularly as a solo artist and as a sideman, tours widely and frequently across the US and Canada, writes scores for films, plays, radio, and television, and has produced several well-received albums of highly original instrumental music. His live performances on solo piano are at once dazzling and intimate, the music both delicate and commanding.
In recent years, Ben’s interests in landscape, place, and environment have become the strongest forces guiding his composition and performances. “I don’t think of my pieces as rendering places in music,” he notes in a 2012 article in Harvard Magazine, “but more just as responding to places musically. Writing music just happens to be the way I process the world.” For years, Ben has been inspired by the ways people respond to built and natural environments, and through songs with names like “Prairie Fire,” “I am Walking Inland,” “Nashua,” and others, he seeks to recreate these phenomena with sound. A year spent researching the preservation of natural soundscapes in America’s natural parks has also shaped much of his new material. “I’m interested in the relationship between sound and a sense of place,” he says. “So much of the North American soundscape is becoming clouded with drones and mechanized noise that it’s quickly losing this rich diversity that is still so obvious in the continent’s visual landscape.”
Much of the material on Field Studies, Ben's first full-length studio offering since 2011′s Yankee Division (which focused specifically on the environment of north-central New England) reflects this concern. The music on the new album looks through a broader lens than its predecessor, considering the human experience of an assortment of 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, Field Studies offers a moving and singular aural tour of the continent.
In addition to his solo work, Ben enjoys working with other artists across a wide range of genres, and he has also held residencies and fellowships at Middlebury College, Acadia National Park, and Harvard University, where much of Field Studies was written and recorded.