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Two New Recordings Feature the Music of Katherine Balch

Oct. 11, 2022

Two New Recordings Feature the Music of Katherine Balch

On October 7, the Departure Duo (Nina Guo, soprano, and Edward Kass, bass) released their debut album titled Immensity Of on the New Focus Recordings label. The disc includes Katherine Balch’s Phrases, which she composed for the Departure Duo, as well as music by John Aylward, Emily Praetorius, and György Kurtág.

Of Phrases, Balch notes:

"I wrote this short set of pieces in a week in January 2017 when I was feeling very agitated and restless musically — stuck in the middle of a piece but frantic, like tight-knit jittering of molecules in a solid. These songs are in part a reflection of that nervous energy and in part a reminder to myself that writing music can be as much an exercise in lightness and ease of the pen as it can be one of rigorous self-reflection and scrutiny.

The texts are excerpts from Rimbaud’s Phrases, which themselves feel like excerpts or fleeting fragments amidst longer aphorisms in his weird prose-suite Les Illuminations. Their aphoristic brevity exemplifies the abstract, ambiguous, but deeply beautiful language used throughout Les Illuminations. I don’t pretend to understand the poems, but rather usurp their words and sounds to reflect this restless quality they stir in me."

Departure Duo performs Katherine Balch's Phrases

In addition, on November 4, pianist Ryan MacEvoy McCullough and soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon will release The Labor of Forgetting as the debut release on their record label, False Azure Records. The album features Katherine Balch’s song cycle, estrangement, with poetry by Katie Ford, and works for piano by Dante De Silva.

Katherine Balch's estrangement was commissioned by the Brooklyn Art Song Society with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and dedicated to Lucy Fitz Gibbon and Michael Brofman. The 13-movement cycle may be performed as a full set or as selections, and may be intertwined with Schumann's Dichterliebe.

To learn more about Katherine Balch, visit

Katherine Balch
Phrases (2017)
for soprano and double bass
Text by Rimbaud (from Les Illuminations)

estrangement (2020)
for soprano and piano