Ghost Ensemble

2023 Programs

world premieres by Catherine Lamb, Sky Macklay, Miya Masaoka, Ben Richter, and Lester St. Louis

and rarely performed large-ensemble music by Pauline Oliveros


Inspirit I

Lamb, Macklay, Masaoka, Richter

duration: 120 minutes plus intermission

stage plotpersonnel: 10

Inspirit II

Macklay, Masaoka, St. Louis, Richter

duration: 85 minutes plus intermission

stage plot • personnel: 10

Rewild I

Lamb, Richter

duration: 90 minutes plus intermission

stage plotpersonnel: 10

Rewild II

Lamb, Richter, Oliveros

duration: 120 minutes plus intermission

stage plot • personnel: 1015

Mountain Air

Lamb, Oliveros

duration: 75 minutes, optional intermission

stage plotpersonnel: 915



duration: 45 minutes

stage plot • personnel: 9

Ghost Ensemble also collaborates with presenters to prepare original and alternative programs. Further options include Macklay/Masaoka/Richter (75'), Oliveros/Richter (75'), and standalone performance of Oliveros (30-45', variable ensemble size) or Richter (45', 10 musicians).


Composers' Workshops

Ghost Ensemble's composers' workshop empowers student, emerging, and mid-career composers by dissolving traditional composer/performer barriers and cultivating unbounded exploratory music-making. Composers are invited into Ghost Ensemble's unique collaborative approach, bringing ideas, scores, and/or improvisations and participating as guest ensemble members in open collaborative sessions.

Instrumentation can include Ghost's complete nonet plus conductor or select musicians from the ensemble lineup of flutes, oboe, accordion, harp, percussion, viola, violoncello, and two contrabasses.

duration: variable • personnel: 310

Deep Listening

Open to all, Deep Listening® workshops explore the nature of listening through the philosophy and practice pioneered by Pauline Oliveros. Interactive, improvisational exercises combine sonic meditation, collective performance, and engagement with the environment. The practice fosters global sonic awareness, perception, experimentation, creativity, playfulness, and community growth. Led by certified Deep Listening instructor Ben Richter, workshops are conducted in cooperation with the Center for Deep Listening at Rensselaer.

duration: 1-3 hours • personnel: 1

Composer Presentations

In combination with concerts featuring Harmonifriends and/or Rewild, Macklay and Richter offer presentations and open conversations about these compositions and their broader work.

duration: 30'-90' • personnel: 1–2


Ben Richter, Director


Sky Macklay: Harmonifriends (2022) — 11'

audio excerpt

Sky Macklay’s Harmonifriends features two of the composer’s inflating “harmonitree” sculptures, which use vinyl, fans, and dozens of deconstructed harmonicas to create vibrating tree-shaped free-reed sound creatures. The ensemble interacts in sonic and kinetic counterpoint with the moving and sounding sculptures as they rise, sing, tremble, and fall in a visceral aural and visual experience that is whimsical yet intense.

Ben Richter: Rewild (2022) — 50'

audio excerpt

Ben Richter’s Rewild traces the fragile evolution of a shadow biosphere, stretching acoustic elements across perceptual thresholds to exotic orders of magnitude — the quantum foam susurrations of yoctomusic; the cosmological flux of yottamusic. The pulsing, breathing sonic ecosystem orients temporal perception toward global listening and virtuosic concentration in a sound-world of constant transformation that marks humanity’s fragile, transient, yet vital role within the immensity of geologic time.

Catherine Lamb: interius/exterius (2022) — 40'

audio excerpt

Catherine Lamb’s interius/exterius, composed in close collaboration with the musicians of Ghost Ensemble through the 2021-22 season, explores multi-dimensional harmonic space, points of phenomenological expansion, and the architecture of the liminal. “Simultaneously singular and, somehow, all-encompassing in her approach,” Lamb creates a musical experience that is “infinitely inspiring and reflective of the human condition” (Nate Wooley, Sound American).

Miya Masaoka: Spirals of Energy / Plant Life Recounted Here (2023) — 15'/15'

Miya Masaoka’s Plant Life Recounted Here, an immersive multi-channel audio-visual installation, explores the pre-animal consciousness of our botanical ancestors through performance produced on location with Ghost Ensemble in the New England forest. Spirals of Energy, an acoustic concert work, explores the spectrum of density and transparency, combining the particular acoustical qualities of Ghost Ensemble's nine instruments to knit together timbres and associated harmonic influences. The two works may be presented in tandem or separately.

Lester St. Louis: PRIM ii: Metaphors Made of Soot and Ultraviolet Light (2023) — 15'

Lester St. Louis's PRIM ii: Metaphors Made of Soot and Ultraviolet Light is the second of a series of works using musical rudiments (major scales) as a means to highlight the expressivity of basic musical components. In this new extension of the series, the layers and seams of these usually definable and recognizable elements become thicker, more transparent and fragmented to highlight the complexity of this rudimentary exercise. 

Pauline Oliveros: Mountain Air (Arctic Air) (1992) — 30'

audio excerpt

Pauline Oliveros’s Mountain Air, originally conceived in 1992 as Arctic Air for the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra, changes title to reflect the performance environment; Ghost Ensemble’s 2021 release of the work’s premiere recording was recorded in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Oliveros asks the musicians to create extremely soft sounds, “at threshold, almost sounding, almost not sounding,” while moving around the performance space very slowly, “playing very close to the ears of audience members at times … This requires very concentrated listening and musical bravery.” Ghost Ensemble, which collaborated closely with Oliveros in 2013-16, invites a variable range of guest artists to join in the realization of this landmark immersive orchestral work.


“Prodigious ... a thrilling listen ... well-crafted and eloquent work.”

Christian Carey, Sequenza21

“Wonderful work ... serene, rippling waves and stirring, ominous surges of sound …

a warped ride both exhilarating and a bit scary.”

Peter Margasak, Bandcamp Daily: The 10 Best Contemporary Classical Albums of 2018

“Very fine ensemble playing — excellent listening to one another … cloudy, mysterious, and dark … Beckettian in its slow spread … certainly a group to keep an eye on.”

Brian Olewnick, Just Outside

“Beautifully performed … a body-felt sound mass … a multifaceted texture that evokes the primeval.”

Meghanne Wilhoite, Meg’s New Music Blog

“Ghost Ensemble embodies the spirit of rugged independence … all these pieces use sound to seek an altered consciousness, from a meditative awareness to a look, perhaps, into a different dimension … the music sounds like something incomprehensibly massive is passing by, slowly. Not a weak link in the bunch …

Strong music, made with a singular spirit.”

George Grella, New York Classical Review