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Marcos Balter 

Pan (2017-18), a musical drama for solo flute, live electronics, and an ensemble of community musicians
Pessoa for six bass flutes (2013)
density 2036: parts i & v 


Pan (2017-2018)

density 2036: part v

The goat-god Pan is one of only two Greek deities said to have been put to death. But how can an immortal figure die at all? Should we understand the death of a god not as a contradiction in terms, but rather as the end of an epoch, or a system of values? If so, then what is it that dies with a figure like Pan — and is such a death a cause for grief, celebration, or something else entirely?

PAN, a 90-minute piece for solo flute, live electronics and mass community participation, is a meditation on ambiguity and the discomfort it brings. Pan is himself the consummate in-betweener. He is half man and half beast; as a demigod, his realm lies somewhere between heaven and earth. He is the symbol of fecundity and the creative urge; he is the weaver of melodies and the guardian of the wilderness. But he is also a cunning predator, whose lust and rapacity drives him to unspeakable deeds.

Pessoa for six bass flutes (2013)

density 2036: part i

Pessoa for live and pre-recorded bass flutes explores sonic textures ranging from the mournful and languid to the dense and hyperactive, with “a nimbus of multi-tracked parts swarming the solo bass-flute lead” (Q2 Music). The piece draws inspiration from the poem “Solene passa sobre a fértil terra” by the Portuguese poet, writer, and philosopher Fernando Pessoa, reprinted here with translation by the composer: 


Solene passa sobre a fértil terra

A branca, inútil nuvem fugidia,

Que um negro instante de entre os campos ergue

Um sopro arrefecido.

Tal me alta na alma a lenta ideia voa

E me enegrece a mente, mas já torno,

Como a si mesmo o mesmo campo, ao dia

Da imperfeita vida.


Solemnly passes above the fertile land

The white, useless elusive cloud,

That a dark moment from the fields elevate

A shivery blow.

It flights high within my soul this slow idea

And it darkens my mind, but I quickly return,

Like the same field returning to itself, to a day

Of the imperfect life.


Praised by The Chicago Tribune as “minutely crafted” and “utterly lovely,” The New York Times as “whimsical” and “surreal,” and The Washington Post as “dark and deeply poetic,” the music of composer Marcos Balter (b.1974, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) is at once emotionally visceral and intellectually complex, primarily rooted in experimental manipulations of timbre and hyper-dramatization of live performance.

Past honors include the American Academy of Arts and Letters Music Award, fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and the Tanglewood Music Center (Leonard Bernstein Fellow), two Chamber Music America awards, as well as commissions from the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Chicago Symphony Music Now, The Crossing, Meet the Composer, Fromm Foundation at Harvard, The Holland/America Music Society, The MacArthur Foundation, and the Art Institute of Chicago.


Recent festival appearances include those at Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival, Ecstatic Music Festival, Acht Brücken, Aldeburgh Music Festival, Aspen, Frankfurter Gesellschaft für Neue Musik, Darmstadt Ferienkurse, and Banff Music Festival. Past collaborators include the rock band Deerhoof, dj King Britt and Alarm Will Sound, yMusic and Paul Simon, Claire Chase and the San Francisco Symphony, the International Contemporary Ensemble, JACK Quartet, Ensemble Dal Niente, Orquestra Experimental da Amazonas Filarmonica, American Contemporary Music Ensemble, American Composers Orchestra, and conductors Karina Canellakis, Susanna Malkki, Matthias Pintscher, and Steven Schick.


His works are published by PSNY (Schott), and commercial recordings of his music are available through New Amsterdam Records, New Focus Recording, Parlour Tapes+, Oxingale Records, and Navona Records.


He is the Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition at Columbia University, having previously held professorships at the University of California San Diego, Montclair State University, and Columbia College Chicago. He currently lives in Manhattan, New York.

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