Benjamin J Mansavage Klein - the header image

The Edgar Allan Poe Suite, a new release featuring Fritz Novotny and Sepp Mitterbauer

I am proud to announce the upcoming release of THE EDGAR ALLAN POE SUITE  (Sporadic Tangible Documents STD 2-4) recorded between May 15 and 17, 2015 at the Studio Toile d’Angles in Minneapolis, MN.  This is a three CD set that features  reformARTunit (est. 1965) founding members Fritz Novotny and Sepp Mitterbauer with members of reformARTwest: Milo Fine, Elaine Evans, Daniel Furuta, Davu Seru, Charles Gillett, Paul Metzger, and myself.  These recordings present the first North American appearance of Fritz and Sepp in three concerts that occurred between that mid weekend in May. The set should be available from the website of Milo Fine by mid-February. 


While I am proud to announce this project, I do so with the regret that Sepp Mitterbauer is not with us personally to share in it.  Sepp passed on December 9, 2015 in Austria from complications with pancreatic cancer.  On December 30, 2015 concerts were given in his memory in both Vienna and Minneapolis by members of the refornARTunit and reformARTwest.  Below is a collage that uses recordings from a reflection I held on December 30 in Iowa City, Iowa dedicated to Sepp.

The Joseph Markwardt Stella Music Box

I recently interviewed my father, Rev Dr James Klein about the Stella music box that belonged to my grandmother, Ruth Klein.  The music box was purchased by my great-great-great uncle Joseph Markwardt who was one of the first of my family to settle in Wisconsin.  My dad recounts the rather sad story surrounding the music box: Joseph Markwardt bought it as a gift for his fiancé who, shortly before the planned date of their wedding, left him.    My great grandfather and grandmother, who took care of Joseph Markwardt later in life, incorporated the Stella music box into their own family traditions, and it has remained in the family since that time.  My father tells the story of this musical instrument in the following audio clip; it also includes a few examples of the music it plays.


Here are a few photos of the Stella music box, the song disks, and Joseph Markwardt

IMG_0917   IMG_0914   IMG_0915



New Uses for Old Platforms

I’ve recently undertaken an overhaul of my Bandcamp and SoundCloud accounts, and I’ve decided to take a more “unprofessional” direction in this endeavor.  I found my early attempts at using these platforms, to launch DIY albums, to be rather unsatisfying.  Shortly after posting, I spent my time and energy on other projects, or on life events, than focusing on the hype needed to push these projects to successful levels. I’ve realized for a very long time, that using these platforms, as they may have been intended as launch pads for independent commercial success, was not in line with my own approach.

I am interested once again by Bandcamp and SoundCloud by considering how I can use the platform designs themselves as a basis for a creative project.   I use the tiling layout in Bandcamp as a way to present my work as though it were an advent calendar, a little surprise behind every door.  By clicking on different tiles, the person on the other end of the mouse encounters a new, strange, and contrasting track.  The soundfiles that lie behind each track aren’t intended to be a mastered commercial product, but instead a different experience than the one clicked on before.  By thinking of my Bandcamp page as a way to present my work as a mini web installation, the platform makes more sense to me. You can take a listen at:

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 4.47.43 PM

I have decided to use my Soundcloud as a sonic journal, or a curated collection of small, miscellaneous, sound objects that provides the mouse user with a rich array of items to peruse.  Again, not the mastered commercial nuggets, but snippets (as the terms originally applies if I were working in analog) of my perspective.

I am certainly not the first to present work like this online.  Some examples of others who have caught my attention are:

Chris Mann (the poet)

Costis Drygianakis

Ann Liv Young

Dale Gorfinkel

A Wunderkammer for the New Year

In the upcoming year, I will teach music theory and composition at Lawrence University.   I am very excited to be back at the school where I completed my undergraduate degree, working some very important mentors of mine once again, particularly Joanne Metcalf, Gene Biringer, Matt Turner, and Marty Erickson. I also look forward to the opportunity of working with new colleagues, especially Asha Srinivasan and Andrew Cole. I am anxiously looking forward to working with the students here, advising them in their creative endeavors as well.

In my own creative pursuits, it has always been important to me to make the space in which I create special in some way.   I see my office here at Lawrence as that space.  In order to activate this creative space, I have set up a Wunderkammer on my bookshelf.  Here is a picture:


My Wunderkammer contains objects that have personal significance for me. I find that reflecting on objects like these help to spark new ideas, or help my relax by meditating on the memory that an object might evoke.  Here is a list of what my Wunderkammer contains:

  • 4 glass containers holding folded metal and small pieces of hardware, these were used in my installation Voicebox
  • 2 tuba mouthpieces, and 2 trombone mouthpieces
  • 5 small music boxes
  • A programmable Sankyo music box with accompanying paper, purchased at the Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement in Utrecht
  • A tin-type portrait of my tuba and me, taken at a concert in Minneapolis
  • Pieces of metal that I used to build my sculpture Rotting Fruit
  • A sketch that I completed in Tokyo
  • A clipboard I used when I worked for the Census in 2010
  • A piece of smoothed glass taken from the ocean in Uruguay by Marcelo Rilla
  • An electric motor given to me by Diane Willow
  • A choir stole made for me by Leah Bergman for the wedding of Matt Roen and Tony Spain
  • A fan and coin purse given to me by Akiko Hatakeyama
  • A Unidyne dynamic microphone, I found while working at the Holy Family School in Sheboygan, Wisconsin
  • A Stylophone given to me by Myer Nore
  • Illustrated library catalog cards completed in Hartford
  • A note written to me by the pastor of the English Reformed Church of Amsterdam
  • My conducting baton
  • Marker sketches for composition
  • A christmas card from my Grandfather, Hilbert Klein
  • A clam shell found on Cape Cod
  • A square piece of quartz collected from Moon Lake, Wisconsin
  • A ring cast by my father, James Klein
  • An anonymous sketch of me playing tuba in London
  • A rivet head collected while working at Robodock 2005 in Amsterdam
  • A patch for the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers given to me by Barry Schwartz

Incidentally To the Best of Our Knowledge recently broadcasted a show that focused on collections like mine.


Welcome to the new

Here, you will find updates regarding upcoming concerts and events, as well as information about ongoing projects. You can also explore my work by following the Works link above, and learn a little bit about me by following the Biography link.