Praised for his “sophisticated writing” (GTM) and work that “weave(s) a trance-like mystical aura” (Zamir Chorale), Ari Sussman (b. 1993) is a Philadelphia born and Ann Arbor based pianist, clawhammer banjoist, and composer of vocal, chamber, orchestral, choral, and electronic music. His music has been performed throughout the United States and Europe by musicians and ensembles such as The Chicago Ensemble, the KC VITAs Chamber Choir, soprano Tony Arnold, Front Porch, Zamir Chorale of Boston, Ensemble Ipse, American Modern Ensemble, Zemer Chai, the Juventas New Music Ensemble, pianist Lior Willinger, and others. Kabbalah, nature, cosmology, meditation, metaphysics, ancient and contemporary poetry, the human condition, and human interactions are among Sussman's non-musical influences and interests. As a result, Sussman's music illustrates equivocal worlds of sounds that are ambient, euphonious, and ethereal in nature.
Recently named composer-in-residence with the Boise-based 208 ensemble, Sussman has won the American Composers Forum: Philadelphia Chapter: Young Composers Scholarship, two Honorable Mentions for the Guild of Temple Musicians Young Composers Award, the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Young Composers Initiative, the University of Michigan 2019 Brehm Prize in Choral Composition, and was a featured composer for the ‘Shalshelet’ 6th International Festival of New Jewish Liturgical Music. Sussman is a two-time finalist for the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, a recipient of a 2018 BMI Student Composer Award, and the 2019 Leonard Bernstein Fellow in composition from the Tanglewood Music Center.
An accomplished concert pianist, Sussman has performed many concerts and recitals throughout the Philadelphia, Boston, and Ann Arbor areas. With a fondness for musical theater, Sussman has held music directorships for productions of Hairspray, Les Misérables, and The Last Five Years. With a love for folk/traditional music, Sussman plays piano and clawhammer banjo for English country dance bands, Contra-dance bands, and Old-time bands. He is also a member of ‘the Butternut Squad,’ a folk/roots ensemble dedicated to playing the traditional musics of the British Isles and Appalachia with a unique and modern approach.
Sussman received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music with honors in composition from the New England Conservatory of Music where he received the Donald Martino Award for Excellence in Composition. He is currently pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition at the University of Michigan. His primary musical mentors include Joel Rothstein, Ellen Bildersee, Michael Gandolfi, Kati Agócs, and Evan Chambers.
Sussman enjoys long walks, playing basketball, drinking tea, Broad City, playing clawhammer banjo, mancala, and avidly rooting for Philadelphian and University of Michigan sports teams. Sussman is a member of the Landscape Music Composers Network.