Katherine Balch (b. 1991) writes music that aims to capture the intimacy of existence through sound. Often influenced by extra-musical arts, philosophy, and literature, she seeks a heterogenous yet formally cohesive aesthetic that blends lyricism with textural landscapes.
Called "intricate" and an "exquisite sound world" by icareifyoulisten, Katherine's music has been commissioned and performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the New York Youth Symphony, American Composer's Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Yale Camerata and Philharmonia, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Antico Moderno, FLUX Quartet, International Contemporary Ensemble, ZOFO duo, New York Virtuoso Singers, Alea III, Departure Duo, wild Up, Contemporaneous and flute-piano duo Zachary Sheets and Wei-Han Wu among others, in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall, National Sawdust, and Centquatre (Paris, France). She was recently appointed Composer-in-Residence with the California Symphony, a three-year position she will hold through 2020. Upcoming projects for the 2016-17 season include new works for the Tokyo and Albany Symphony Orchestras, a residency with the MANCA festival in Nice, France, and collaborations with NYC-based Bearthoven trio and Colorado-based violinist Michiko Theurer.
Recent recognitions include fellowships from Aspen, Norfolk, Fontainebleau, and Santa Fe music festivals, LA Phil's National Composer's Intensive, several ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, a BMI student composer award, New England Conservatory’s Donald Martino Prize, Fontainebleau’s Prix du Composition, first prize in America Modern Ensemble’s 8th annual Composition Competition, Grand Prize in ISB's composition competition, Yale's Alumni Association Prize and Woods Chandler Memorial Prize, and a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Interested in the intersection of art, philosophy, and politics, Katherine’s particular fascination with the writings of J.J. Rousseau, F. Nietzsche, and Baron de Montesquieu has led to grants from Tufts’ Summer Scholars fund, the Undergraduate Research fund, a presentation at the Northeastern Political Science Association conference in Philadelphia, and publication in the History of European Ideas. Katherine was also recipient of Tufts' Albert H. Imlah history prize, the Russell E. Miller history prize, the Peter Belfer prize in political science, and the Class of 1942 Prize Scholarship for excellence in teaching. In 2013, she was a Tikvah Project summer fellow at Princeton University. Explorations of political philosophy, history, and the relationship of the artist to society remain an important part of her musical identity.
Katherine received her B.A. / B.M. in the Tufts / New England Conservatory double degree program, where she double majored in history and political science at Tufts (summa cum laude) and studied composition at NEC (academic honors). Her principal teachers were Kati Agócs, John McDonald, and Stratis Minakakis. She completed her M.M. at Yale School of Music as a Charles H. Ditson fellow, where she studied with Aaron Jay Kernis, Chris Theofanidis, and David Lang, and is currently pursuing her D.M.A. as a Dean's fellow at Columbia University, studying with Georg Haas and Fred Lerdahl. She is managed by Young Concert Artists Inc., where she is currently the 2017-2019 composer-in-residence.
Passionate about education at all levels, she is a faculty member of the Walden School in Dublin, New Hampshire and Bard College-Conservatory preparatory in the Hudson Valley. When not making or listening to music, Katherine enjoys cooking, playing with her cat, Zarathustra, various combinations of espresso and steamed milk, and the outdoors.