In the News

...just as notable is the skill with which Balch writes for the orchestra, filling her score with engaging instrumental knickknacks and nuggets of imaginative whimsy that come at the listener from every corner of the stage. She’s like some kind of musical Thomas Edison — you can just hear her tinkering around in her workshop, putting together new sounds and textural ideas... the concerto’s lustrous, beating heart is its second movement, after the Capriccio No. 6 of Paganini. Here the violinist does almost nothing but sustain a long trill — but it’s a trill full of color and variety, which the soloist turns as if holding a jewel up to the light. The orchestra, meanwhile, whispers sweet enchantments into the audience’s ear, from little ticktock insinuations to gently smeared tonal harmonies. It’s a short but breathtakingly beautiful stretch...
— San Francisco Chronicle
Katherine Balch is a fascinating composer, of the newer sort...there is an a-temporal lack of forward motion in much that I have heard, but I would not call it eternity, or even stillness. She often seems governed by the duration and cycle of inhale/exhale. As the Lovin’ Spoonful once sang, “I don’t know what it is, but it sure is soft and strong.”
— Noozhawk Santa Barbara
...Märkl also issued a light-hearted warning: “there will be no melody, but very beautiful sound experiences, very unique.” ....Balch’s music was sparse and, as promised, amelodic. Yet it was a compelling amelodicism, a shimmering sonic blanket quilted from microswaths of richly colored acoustic fabrics, harmonic in an aggressively non-functional way, halfway between the John Adamses. Waves of dazzling brass, swelling out from muted trumpets and trombone glissandi, surging across the stage to the horns. A sine tone emerged from a pair of intent trumpets and threaded its way around the orchestra through wavering winds and spectralist strings...
— Oregon ArtsWatch
…Balch’s flittering string devices reminded me of the origami-delicate writing found in the quartets of Georg Haas, one of her teachers. Superimposed on this, though, wild brass glissandos and a healthy sprinkling of jazz harmony lent the piece a surprising levity, especially in light of its technical complexity. Balch has the ability to compose intellectually stimulating but emotionally transparent textures, of which a tight-voiced, legato string ascent before the climax provided the most shining example…
— SF Classical Voice
Scored for flute and piano, it is a spellbinding work that opens with a nervous energy that soon subsides into relative stillness...The transfixing sounds became the musical equivalent of thousands of random, iridescent flashes of light that punctuate the dark.
— Seen and Heard International
Keeping all those off-kilter rhythms together is conductor Donato Cabrera: ‘The piece itself is – and I think is kind of a trait of Katherine’s music – is that there’s a sense of playfulness, a sense of whimsy, that is so attractive and so beguiling, and really fun to delve into and figure out exactly how it’s working.’
— Classical KDFC
This is vividly imagined music, and Cabrera and the orchestra gave it a terse, evocative reading.
— SF Gate
...a superbly gifted composer... a compositional voice that is truly unique and full of wonder. Her music is always searching for something innovative and heartfelt...
— Mercury News
Katherine Balch reimagined a slow-moving river journey aboard a barge in “drift” complete with nature sounds, rock scrappings, and shimmering currents captured by ingenious instrumental effects.
— Albany Daily Gazette
…Balch’s exquisite sound world in the first moments of the piece was constituted by layers of airy, fluttery sounds brushed across surfaces and across the strings inside the piano. Eventually, these flutters surged into a series of rushing, overlapping descending runs and patterns sliding this way and that, against a muted trombone in the background, until the final upward lilty wisp of sound...
— icareifyoulisten
The precocious talents of Katherine Balch transported one fragment of text by Michelangelo to an engaging narrative of complex intrigue that was realized with the virtuosity of soprano Justine Aronson and bassist Patrick Swoboda.
— LaScena
Katherine Balch performed her own Studies, which update Schoenberg with ever-so-slightly expansive harmonies and fragments of concerto-like virtuosic performance post-dating Prokofiev.
— Boston Music Intelligencer