This past summer Chicago lost one of its most distinctive and acclaimed composers when Marcos Balter
—the Brazilian native who was previously the director of musical composition studies at Columbia College—moved to New York to assume a position as associate professor of music composition at Montclair State University. Of course, he continues to write new music, and in that sense his presence will live on whenever someone performs one of his pieces. "Bladed Stance," a beautifully shimmering, luminescent meditation of Balter's, recently turned up on Balance Problems
(New Amsterdam), a lovely new record by the flexible New York group yMusic
—a key player in bringing the concision and accessibility of pop music to the contemporary classical world. The group, which has recorded with expansive pop groups like My Brightest Diamond
and Dirty Projectors, features a stellar lineup of genre-allergic players: Rob Moose, Nadia Sirota, Alex Sopp, Hideaki Aomori, CJ Camerieri, and Clarice Jensen (who performed in town last night as a member of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble
in a concert I presented at Constellation); most of its members have also spent time playing with pop-rock artists including Bon Iver, Antony & the Johnsons, and Bjork. The new album features music by Nico Muhly, Timo Andres, and Sufjan Stevens, among others, but the Balter piece, which is today's 12 O'Clock Track
, nicely encapsulates the group's aesthetic, where soothing melodies and glowing harmonies help unusual structures and adventurous, sometimes dissonant techniques find an impressive sweet spot. You might not call it "classical" music, but there's nothing glib or shallow about it. You can watch the video for "Bladed Stance" after the jump.