Robert is a composer living in Boston, MA. He co-founded the Sleeping Giant composer collective and co-directs the Fast Forward Austin music festival. Send me emails at rhonstein@gmail.com !

Check out my store to purchase albums and scores.

long bio


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Events Calendar

  • We 1.25.17: ASH @ U.Dayton
  • Fr 2.3.17: QOA @ Slovenia
  • Sa 2.4.17: QOA @ Slovenia
  • Mo 2.6.17: HE @ Chattanooga
  • We 3.1.17: Index @ Pregones
  • Su 4.2.17: Arctic @ Caramoor
  • Mo 4.3.17: Index @ Boston
  • Su 5.7.17: Arctic @ S. Church
  • Su 6.4.17: Requiem @ DPO
  • Su 6.3.18: Night Scenes @ DPO
Click here to see past events.

Hand Eye, the album

Photo by Elliot Mandel

Photo by Elliot Mandel

I’m very excited to report that Hand Eye, the evening length piece by Sleeping Giant for eighth blackbird, is being released April 8 on Cedille Records. Read all about it here, and click here to get a free download of a preview track, which happens to be the third movement from my piece Conduit. Currently touring around the country to rave reviews, this project has been epic and wonderful. I’m really proud to be a part of it and thrilled that it will soon be available for all to enjoy!

Orison, live recording

A wonderful recording of the world premiere of my piece Orison for cello and electronics is now available. Composed for Ashley Bathgate as part of Sleeping Giant’s Ash, the piece is a slow, meditation on the memory, and resonance, of the  Sarabandes in Bach’s cello suites. It’s also my first foray into the instrument + electronics genre. Ashley sounds amazing. Read more about the piece here and give it a listen below.

Arctic, the video!

Hey, new video of the Mivos Quartet recording Arctic! Commissioned by Carnegie Hall and composed for Mivos in 2013, the piece is in two movements – Midnight Sun and Polar Night – and inspired by the photography of Chris McCaw. I’m so happy to finally be able to share this piece with you. Read more about it here, and enjoy the video below!

Lip Service, the video!

This one has been a long time in the making, but I’m extremely proud to finally release the video of Concert Black performing ‘Lip Service.’ One of my longest and strongest collaborations, I’ve been working on this jam with Owen, Lisa and Domenica since 2011. Perhaps more than any other piece of mine I feel like this music totally embodies the personalities of those three, and they totally embody the character of the music, so it’s particularly cool to have this amazing documentation of them rocking it. Evan Chapman once again brings his incredible eye and ear to the project, creating a beautiful and captivating video of Concert Black’s performance. Enjoy!

Talking in Circles, the video!

Very excited to share this awesome new performance video by andPlay and Evan Chapman! Click here to learn more about the piece. Tell all your friends!

The Sun Speckled Climbing Up

Chamber Orchestra (1111.2 sax.111.perc.pno.11111) and Two Sopranos – 12 minutes

sun speckled

The Sun Speckled Climbing Up takes its inspiration from Book of Hours, an artist book stitched on tissue paper by Laura Grey. Loosely following the structure of a medieval book of hours, the project reimagines the ancient prayerbook as a large, hand-stitched, table- sized book. Several texts from various sources are collaged together, creating a narrative that references the structure of the original, while offering a contemporary perspective on the practice of daily devotion. The Sun Speckled Climbing Up is a musical setting of one section from Book of Hours featuring fragments from Rainer Maria Rilke’s own Book of Hours collection. Accompanying the music are video projections created by Hannah Wasileski and Laura Grey comprised of slow moving close up footage of the hand stitched, tissue paper book. The Rilke text speaks of gaping emotional chasms, yearning, and desire. This sentiment finds its way into the music, fueling the piece’s angular vocal lines and churning ensemble rhythms. This piece was commissioned by the Albany (NY) Symphony Orchestra.

For rental information please click here

premiered 06.10.16 at EMPAC, Troy, NY, by the Dogs of Desire, David Alan Miller Conductor

An Economy of Means

Prepared Vibraphone Solo – 30 minutes

Photo Jul 09, 11 45 24 AM

An Economy of Means is a kind of companion piece to my trio An Index of Possibility. In Index I used a wide range of materials—glass, metal, wood, ceramic, drums, toys, found objects—to create a large form that moved between distinctive worlds within a broad sonic palette. With An Economy of Means I’ve done the opposite, deliberately using one instrument, the vibraphone, and forcing myself to make the most out of limited resources. With a few simple preparations—tin foil, a manilla folder—and judicious usage of the vibraphone’s natural properties, I tried to build something vast and varied, as broad and ambitious as the trio but in a narrower, more focused context. Set in six movements, the nearly thirty minute piece doesn’t have a specific narrative. Even so, I think there is always a sense of motion, of drifting from space to space, with little dramas unfolding along the way. An Economy of Means was commissioned by Doug Perkins and a consortium of alumni from the Chosen Vale Summer Percussion Seminar. I think the infectious spirit of friendship and collaboration so strongly felt at Chosen Vale found its way into this work, and for that I am extremely grateful.

Recording coming soon!

The Great Marsh

String Quartet – 20 minutes


Stretching across the Massachusetts North Shore from Gloucester to Salisbury, the Great Marsh is the largest salt marsh in New England. My piece is a collection of snap shot impressions, each movement a reflection on some special feature of this beautiful area. On my first visit to the Great Marsh I couldn’t help but think this is what much of the New England coast must have looked like long ago: vast stretches of marsh, barrier beaches, and tidal rivers fanning out for miles, an eternity of mud, grass, and brackish water. The first movement, Salt Hay, refers to the tall thin grass common to the area. Rushing scales, flowing lines, and bright harmonies burst forward, evoking the quicksilver motion of Salt Hay as it flashes back and forth in the wind. In the second movement slowly shifting harmonies, suspended dissonance, and languid motion evoke the oozy muck of tidal Mudflats while a playful, buoyant third movement represents the Seaside Sparrow, a rare bird local to coastal marshes. The final movement, Estuary, reflects on the perpetual tidal ebb and flow, the transition from land to sea, and the ancient, delicate balance of life sustained by the Great Marsh. The Great Marsh was commissioned by Music at Eden’s Edge.

Check out this live recording from the Congregational Church of Topsfield on 7.16.16

To purchase a score and part set please click here

premiered 07.15.16 at the North Shore Arts Association, Gloucester, MA by musicians from Music at Eden’s Edge

Hand Eye

Trailer for Sleeping Giant’s upcoming collaboration with eighth blackbird. We wrote an evening length work inspired by art work from the Stuart and Maxine Frankel Foundation. My contribution to the project, Conduit, is a three movement piece inspired by a bit of interactive sculpture. Read more about that here. The birds are taking Hand Eye on the road next season and will be playing it around the country. Stay tuned for dates and more information!

HAND EYE from eighth blackbird on Vimeo.

An Index of Possibility, the video!

TIGUE made a video! Videography by Evan Chapman and presented by Vic Firth. I’m so lucky to have such incredible collaborators bring this work to life. Check it out. Tell all your friends! Click here to learn more about the piece and TIGUE.