Robert is a composer living in Boston, MA. He co-founded the Sleeping Giant composer collective and co-directs the Times Two Series. Send me emails at rhonstein@gmail.com !

Check out my store to purchase albums and scores.

long bio


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Events Calendar

  • Mo 2.26.18: TIC @ MEE
  • We 2.28.18: Conduit @ Boston
  • Sa 3.3.18: MG @ MFA
  • Mo 3.5.18: TIC @ MEE
  • Su 3.11.18: Middle Ground @ Lincoln, NE
  • Sa 3.24.18: Hymning @ VU
  • Mo 3.26.18: SH @ Cleveland
  • We 3.28.18: SH @ Elyria
  • Th 3.29.18: SH @ U.Michigan
  • Fr 4.6.18: Residency @ KU
  • Su 4.8.18: Patter @ UNCG
  • Th 4.12.18: Timor @ Shift
  • Th 4.12.18: 3ANM @ Portland
  • Fr 4.13.18: 3ANM @ Portland
  • Mo 4.23.18: SH @ NYC
Click here to see past events.


Soul House

“Honstein’s writing in Soul House is always fresh, sometimes, quite inventive…”

“There’s some devilishly fun writing to be found in its pages – the swirling arpeggios in “Driveway” are particularly striking… Honstein’s scoring is idiomatic and well-balanced, equal parts athletic and reflective.”

Concert Review: Hub New Music in Worcester
Jonathan Blumhofer, The Arts Fuse

Book of Hours

“Honstein’s ‘Book of Hours’ was heard in a nuanced, nimble performance by members of the Present Music Ensemble along with vocalists of the Hearing Voices Ensemble. The six-movement piece, which contains one instrumental interlude and five haunting, contemplative musical settings of thoughtful literary quotes, proved deeply involving.”

‘Present Music’s Thanksgiving concert strikes a grateful chord’, Elaine Schmidt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“A commission to honor the 35th season of Present Music, Robert Honstein’s Book of Hours was derived from artist Laura Grey’s reimagining of a medieval book of hours, used for daily devotion. The excellent eight-member Hearing Voices Ensemble performed with a chamber ensemble, conducted by Kevin Stalheim. Short texts were contemplated in settings that are simultaneously peaceful and restless, pondering the ever-present and always-changing now.

Honstein’s music takes patterns of repetition and artfully layers them; the result is often quite beautiful. The six-movement piece concludes with the men singing ‘Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.’ On top of this the women sing ‘Timor mortis conturbat me’ (Fear of death confounds me), creating a profoundly moving combination of hope and dread of the inevitable fate of all humans. As the sound accumulated and soared I couldn’t have been the only one there moved to tears.”

‘Present Music Gives Thanks Again: Annual holiday concert an artful, joyful, rousing experience’, Rick Walters, Shepherd Express

The Sun Speckled Climbing Up

“The most striking and powerful piece was the world premiere of Robert Honstein’s ‘The Sun Speckled Climbing Up’. The sopranos sang wide leaps, holding the high notes while the music for the ensemble was bold, dynamic, and also jumpy, repetitive and complex. Accompanying this was a fascinating video, by Hannah Waseliski, consisting of the text, with yarn words that flew and tumbled through the pages, while on stage Laura Grey turned these pages of a tissue paper large manuscript with the same text. All of this added to the excitement and mystery.”

‘Review: Albany Symphony: Dogs of Desire @ EMPAC, 6/10/16’, Priscilla McLean, Albany Times Union

“Robert Honstein’s ‘The Sun Speckled Climbing Up,’: one of the offerings from the Dogs of Desire, had a haunting, cascading effect, like hovering on a precipice. Adding to the experience were projections of fading texts on wrinkled pages that became filled with red vein-like lines. Maybe I’m a sucker for some interesting video now and then, but when at EMPAC it’s nice to see the technology deployed to good effect.”

‘A few days of music thanks to ASO: So many highlights from the American Music Festival’, Joseph Dalton, Albany Times Union

Timor Mortis

“A haunting ending to the concert was Honstein’s ‘Timor Mortis’, with vocal delays and singing, soft piano chords, and floating orchestral sounds, gradually dying away.”

‘Review: Albany Symphony: Dogs of Desire @ EMPAC, 5/15/15’, Priscilla McLean, Albany Times Union


“Mr. Honstein’s ‘Conduit’ evokes a man-machine synthesis, with waves of colorful sounds and breathless eruptions.”

‘Review: Eighth Blackbird Ensemble Plays Sleeping Giant’s Suite’, Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

“Been a stressful year? This music will help. With a pulse about the same as your heartbeat, Robert Honstein’s mesmerizing piece has the power to soothe. One by one, the violin, piano and clarinet intertwine. And before you know it, a flute takes flight, soaring above the composer’s meditative, transparent weave of sounds.”

‘Top 100 Songs of 2016’, Tom Huizenga, NPR

RE: you (album)

“And yet, what is truly remarkable about his technique is how little he has to do. If I may paraphrase a quote attributed to Ravel, Honstein seems to have found complexity by eschewing complicatedness.”

‘RE: Honstein’, Damjan Rakonjac, artificialist.blogspot.com

“The initial phrases of the opening track, with their gangly electric guitar and foregrounded percussion, also suggest an alternative pop album, as do the openings of just about every other track. But the vocals never come. Instead, the instrumental textures get manipulated in ways that are more reminiscent of contemporary chamber music. So while this is music that is clearly informed by indie rock songs, it is ultimately something else entirely.”

Robert Honstein: Oblique Strategies’, Frank J. Oteri, newmusicbox.org

“The music itself is crisp and clean, dexterously shifting character between movements from post-minimalist grooves to dark, jazzy episodes colored by electric-guitar feedback. Honstein manages to set music to the highs and lows, the hopes and disappointments of dating that anyone can relate to, but with tongue in cheek.”

George Adams, American Record Guide


“A complex, dissonant chord slowly built throughout the orchestra at the start of Robert Honstein’s “Rise,” set alongside cello strums in a potent juxtaposition of sounds gentle and eerie.”

‘For Audience and Young Composers, a Chance to See Works Take Flight,’ Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times

“A trouble-in-paradise tableau, it artfully developed an increasing apprehension as it grew from a spectral, nebulous ambience to a coldly sarcastic march and a decidedly unresolved ending.”

‘The American Composers Orchestra Celebrates Cinematically Briliant New Music,‘ Lucid Culture, lucidculture.wordpress.com


“Mivos Quartet, another New York group, brought out an appropriately hallucinatory chill in Robert Honstein’s shivering Arctic.

‘New Voices, New Music’ from David Lang at Zankel Hall, Steve Smith, The New York Times

“The soft, dovetailed attacks, subtle hockets, and quietly undulating dynamics — not to mention the haunting, decentered silences — produce an overwhelmingly dreamy effect, like a gauzy spiderweb backlit by the arctic moon.”

Carnegie Day 2, of Music and Tattoos…, Damjan Rakonjac, artificialist.blogspot.com

“…dance rhythms churn underneath searing harmonics, creating a sparkling momentum.  Sudden silences riddle the score; they happen without warning, jolting and suspending the listener.”

New Music, New Voices: Robert Honstein and the Mivos Quartet, Jane Mitchell, nutsandboltsmusic.com

We Choose to Go to the Moon

“The music ranged from quietly poignant (Robert Honstein’s luminous “We Choose to Go to the Moon,” built around President John F. Kennedy’s famous words) to operatic…”

Mirage Trio debuts at Atlas with warm, lyrical interpretations of 21st-century composers, Stephen Brookes, The Washington Post

My Heart Iz Open

“The major offering of the evening were two scenes from the chamber opera, My Heart Iz Open. American composer Robert Honstein based his opera on a sequence of emails intercepted and turned into a lonely-hearts story with a genuinely touching emotional impact.”

Lunsqui and Honstein works provide the highlights in Dal Niente program, Gerald Fisher, Chicago Classical Review


“Indeed, Patter’s central theme was a conversation that moved seamlessly between the trio of marimba, violin and cello. Sometimes the voice worked together, sometimes in a pulsing counterpoint, but throughout, the musicians (Vaughn on cello, Compitello on marimba, Blagomira Lipari on violin) were tight and focused, moving from the ambient repetitive music of rain through to a buoyant colloquy.”

Society for New Music presents “The NOW Generation”, Sarah Hope, thenewshouse.com


“Mr. Honstein built a few Stravinskian gestures into ‘Marionette,’ an abstract assortment of explosive figures in constantly changing combinations of timbre.”

Brooklyn Composers Riff on Stravinsky, Allan Kozinn, The New York Times


“The tensions and doubts fostered by that uncertainty take form in roiling, insistent orchestral figuration. But there are lakeside reveries too, and Mr. Honstein linked these extremes with concise clarinet figures that Mr. McGill played with a fluid assertiveness.”

Showing the Adults How It’s Done, Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

“It was the juxtaposition of Honstein’s skillfully crafted narratiave and the Mozart piece that resonated with me long after the final bows were taken.”

Thoughts on the New York Youth Symphony, Lena Kim, The Heej.com

Is it auburn?

Composer-pianist Robert Honstein led performances of two of his glittering, percussive short pieces, whose airy tone and very legible structure (Is It Auburn? was plain A-B-A) made them fit very well on this program.”

The Correction Line Ensemble: Bridging the popular-classical divide, Robert Everett-Green, the Globe and Mail

200 OK

“All three works demonstrated strong knowledge of the orchestra as an instrument.”

Albany Symphony in Overdrive, Rob Deemer, Sequenza21.com

“…excited layers of rhythmic pulsation…”

Unpop! 12.23.09, Daniel Stephen Johnson

“…a fine and friendly composition. Ears that have taken up residence in the American tradition of Copland, Ives and Adams will feel the tug of that spirit.”

Seven days doesn’t ripen the experience of hearing new music, Myra Herron, Hudsonsounds.org

Why are you not answering?

…driving rhythmic patterns, appealing tone frames and, signature orchestration with strings, electric guitar, clarinet/sax of course, and immense varied percussion sections…”

The Little Ensemble That Could, Leslie Kandell, Schenectady Daily Gazette

Waterloo Dance Hall

“…brash but sonorous…”

“At times the whole quartet locked into a punchy groove with quick and wide-ranging changes in dynamics. Honstein drew in shades of jazz, Latin, and perhaps Indian music without ever unite going to these places or losing the organic unity of the piece.”

Austin TX Offers New Sounds at the Gershwin Hotel, David Pearson, icareifyoulisten.org

Fantasy Triptych

A piece that very effectively conveyed a narrative was Robert Honstein’s Fantasy Triptych, moving through three sections with its own unique logic.”

Seventeenth Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival, Matthew Dotson, Computer Music Journal

Fast Forward Austin

“…probably the first classical music event in Austin to simultaneously make its own beer koozies and receive 100 submissions to a competition for new music.”

Classical Music Gets a Different Venue at Fast Forward Austin, Luke Quinton, Austin American Statesmen

“By bringing together a diverse group of local cutting-edge artists working in graphic, dramatic, and musical media in a welcomingly relaxed venue unburdened by typical concert conventions, the festival’s marathon concert tapped into what is so great about the Austin vibe: a community of people who are artistically curious, non-doctrinaire, and unpretentious”

A New Contemporary Music Festival Moves Forward in Austin, Dan Visconti, NewMusicBox

New Music Takes the Fast Track in Austin, Andrew Sigler, NewMusicBox

Sleeping Giant

…rapidly gaining notice for their daring innovations, stylistic range and acute attention to instrumental nuance.”

Cued up on Q2, WQXR, wqxr.org

“…five talented guys…”

Goings on About Town, The New Yorker

“…dangerously talented…”

Fall Arts Preview: Onwards and Upwards, Daniel Stephen Johnson, The New Haven Advocate

Correction Line Ensemble

…wonderfully precise lyrics, silky strings playing and magical percussion…”

The Correction Line Ensemble: Bridging the popular-classical divide, Robert Everett-Green, the Globe and Mail

“There’s a new bottom line in Canadian Indie music.”

A Conversation Well Worth Hearing, James Reany, The London Free Press

“What appeals to these musicians is that blurry area between distinct musical realms and the travel between disciplines and genres.  To experience this kind of interaction and movement between genres in one concert is unique.”

Correction Line Ensemble in Winnipeg, CBC Radio 2 Concerts on Demand, cbc.ca

“When great musicians from different backgrounds play together, it’s often called a conversation; questions are posed and answered, and experiences are shared. There is no better way to describe the sound of Correction Line Ensemble, a group that combines classical and avant-garde elements with traditional songwriting”

Weakerthans Mix It Up, Pull Some Strings, Jason Scheider, The Guelph Mercury

“…an engaging and seamless conversation between classical and modern music…”

Ensemble Bridges Gap Between Modern and Classical, The Morden Times

“The concert was, in a word, absolutely, impossibly, extraordinarily sublime. The audience seemed to spend the duration holding its collective breath, unless to laugh at the whimsy of the situation or to heave a deeply satisfied sigh. The performance was so warm and welcoming that we might as well have been watching all these seasoned, renowned performance veterans hanging out in somebody’s living room or around a dining room table.”

Indulging in a Little Hero Worship, Natalie Bohrn, The Brandon Sun

The major offering of the evening were two scenes from the chamber opera, My Heart Iz Open. American composer Robert Honstein based his opera on a sequence of emails intercepted and turned into a lonely-hearts story with a genuinely touching emotional impact.