Ari Sussman

Ari Sussman
Based in Ann Arbor, MI

“Humanity and our ecosystem coexist. Humanity consists of billions of small living and breathing organisms and creatures. Our ecosystem also consists of billions of small living and breathing organisms and creatures. I see them as one in the same. Much of my work is my own musical amalgamation on how I view human interaction and the human condition with my own immersions into nature.”


Praised for his “sophisticated writing…and intriguing rhythms” (GTM), Ari Sussman (b. 1993) is an award-winning Philadelphia-born pianist and composer of vocal, chamber, orchestral, choral, and electronic music. His compositions have been performed throughout the United States and Europe, and by ensembles such as The Chicago Ensemble, the KC VITAs Chamber Choir, Inventio Music, the AMF Contemporary Ensemble, American Modern Ensemble, Zemer Chai, among others. Kabbalah, nature, cosmology, meditation, metaphysics, and poetry 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.

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 ‘Shalshelet’ 6th International Festival of New Jewish Liturgical Music, and the KC VITAs Chamber Choir Composition Competition. Sussman is a two-time finalist for the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, and his orchestral work Kol Galgal was a recipient of a 2018 BMI Student Composer Award.

An accomplished concert pianist, Sussman has performed many concerts and recitals throughout the Philadelphia and Boston areas. With a fondness for musical theater, Sussman has held music directorships for productions of Hairspray, Les Misérables, and The Last Five Years. In 2016, Sussman was selected as a judge for Kol HaOlam: The Annual Collegiate Jewish A Cappella Championship Competition.

Sussman previously studied piano with Joel Rothstein and Ellen Bildersee and composition with Daniel Shapiro. Sussman received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music with Honors in Composition from the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Michael Gandolfi and Kati Agócs and received the Donald Martino Award for Excellence in Composition. He will begin pursuit of the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2018.

In his spare time, Sussman enjoys long walks, playing basketball, Broad City, mancala, playing Bluegrass/Old-time music, and avidly rooting for Philadelphian sports teams.

Work Samples

Aurora (2017) for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion. Recorded at New England Conservatory in 2017.

“‘In verdure and light,
Aurora soars and hears our
own vibrant colors.’

This piece was conceived in Acadia National Park. Aurora explores personal meditations on the grounds of Acadia.”

Celestial Shores (2015) for orchestra. Recorded at New England Conservatory in 2015.

Celestial Shores was composed in 2014/2015 for full orchestra. The work was originally inspired by a beautiful scene of a blood moon and her reflection over the ocean’s shores of Fenwick Island, DE at summer’s end in 2014. It was a very rough summer for me; three surgeries, multiple hospital stays, and medicines galore kept me incapacitated for the majority of that summer. Looking back, I think I now see both the image of the moon and my sickness as a major turning point in my life. It turned out to not only awaken a seismic shift within me into what is (still) becoming my musical aesthetic, but also (and more importantly) how I began to view my place, time, and being on this beautiful earth.

Recommended excerpt: 9:10 to the end.

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