Today we’d like to introduce you to Ben Cosgrove.
Ben, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Sure! I’m a traveling piano player, but I’ve got these deep interests in landscape, place, geography, and environmental history, and for the last several years I’ve wandered around the country writing music that helps me work through those ideas as they apply to the places I move through. I started out in Boston, though — I went to college here and have sort of perennially boomeranged back through this area again and again in the years since then.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I write instrumental music — and yeah, like I mentioned, it’s all tied to ideas about landscape, place, ecology, and other things that fascinate me — but tend to perform in the kind of environment where you might ordinarily expect to see, like, a singer-songwriter. All my friends are folk musicians, and that’s much closer to the career model I’ve sort of aspired to, rather than that of a classical musician. I feel much more like a songwriter than I do like a composer, even though I don’t use lyrics in my work.
In addition to that, though, I’ve done a lot of work with National Parks, with the Forest Service, with an oceanographic institute, and with an art & ecology center out in Oregon; I really enjoy collaborating with conservation organizations and other institutions to dig down and figure out what makes a certain place unique or exceptional. Over the past year I’ve been working as the artist-in-residence with the New England Trail, this footpath that runs from the MA/NH border all the way down to Long Island Sound, and in that capacity, I’ve been busy writing music intended to illustrate different moments along that trail’s path.
Do current events, local or global, affect your work and what you are focused on?
Huh. I don’t think I’ve got an easy answer to this one. Every issue is different and resonates with different artists and different groups of people. I do feel that it’s important to keep my work tied to something bigger than myself and my own thoughts and feelings — and that’s why I’ve always tried to attach it to landscape in some way — but at the same time, I think it’s risky when art tries to be too explicitly prescriptive. One advantage of writing music with no words is that I can kind of nudge people off in the direction I hope they’ll go, but after that it’s up to them to interpret it as they will. I think that open-endedness is an important part of any art or music, and it’s important to me that I will never know for sure how any given person will ultimately react to the stuff I make, or what it will do for them. That’s not to say that I’m not deeply troubled by the state of the world right now, only that I’d feel presumptuous and didactic if I were using my music to do anything more than express my own oblique and abstract reactions to it and then hope a listener can identify something unexpected and universal in that.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
The best resource for that kind of thing is at my website, www.bencosgrove.com, where you can hear a bunch of my music, keep track of where I’ll be performing, read some of the essays I’ve written, and more. You’ll also find an opportunity to sign up for my mailing list (which I pride myself on using very sparingly and responsibly), which is probably the best way to keep tabs on where I am and what I’m doing. And of course, I’m on Instagram and Facebook and all of that stuff; you are welcome and encouraged to follow me there.
- Website: www.bencosgrove.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/bencosgrovemusic
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/bencosgrovemusic
Courtesy of the artist.