Episode #5

Marcos Balter: Failure Is an Option

« previous episode | next episode »

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Marcos Balter Marcos Balter (Kat Keers)

For Marcos Balter, stellar composition requires the dedicated, daily practice of an athlete. He doesn't think it possible to unearth and hone brilliant musical ideas without slogging through a whole bunch of failures along the way, nor does he believe that the compositional demigods we revere so highly – Bach, Beethoven, Mozart – birthed only masterpieces. He worries too many creatives get tongue-tied attempting consistent genius, and that their work suffers for it. Marcos has learned to embrace failure, and that these failures can lead to incredible breakthroughs.

Marcos is a composer whose manic energy and relentless work ethic effuse from everything he touches: friendships, pedagogy, and especially his music. His fast-talking, whip-smart style is easy to detect in his intricate scores. His music reverberates and pulses with energy, sometimes in such a small container, or in such a demure dynamic that the score feels almost radioactive.

Marcos Balter's point of view is singular; he can roll with the modernists and the minimalists with ease, and yet his music doesn't really fit any particular rubric. His carefully constructed works have fine grammar, well-planned architecture and often astonishing material. He is a master at finding unexpected timbral rhyme that delights and surprises.


Doyle Armbrust, Marcos Balter and Claire Chase

Hosted by:

Nadia Sirota

Produced by:

Alexander Overington


Curtis Macdonald

Marcos Balter: I. Reading, Reich & Rio

Marcos Balter grows up a precocious kid in Rio de Janeiro plying piano at his aunt's house. Everything changes when he's introduced to the mind-expanding works of Berio, Reich & Ligeti.


Marcos Balter: II. Libraries are Magic

Marcos Balter discovers the library and falls in love with maps, tablature and smart scores.

Comments [3]

Marcos Balter: III. Failure Is An Option

Marcos settles into his Chicago new-music community and figures out that some of his best work comes from allowing himself to fail.

Comments [1]

Marcos Balter: Failure is an Option: Playlist

The complete breakdown of all the music used for scoring and illustration in Meet the Composer's episode five – Marcos Balter: Failure is an Option.

Comments [1]

Comments [2]

Aeysha Kinnunen from Minneapolis

You guys should start an archive of the composers your interviewers list in the program. I would love to listen to their inspirations along with the work of these fabulous new artists you've been introducing me to but it's hard to keep up with all of the new names as I'm listening. Even just a list would be excellent. I love this podcast!

Nov. 12 2014 12:31 PM
gina ballinger from graz austria

again Thank You : ) stimulating - exciting - smiling - glad that Meet The Composer is on the air!

Nov. 11 2014 12:13 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.