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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Cave Music

Sam Wagner

From deep inside a cave rise the haunting sounds of 'Cavernous,' by Minneapolis-based composer and percussionist Zack Baltich.

Composing and performing his music, a mix of neoclassical and experimental sounds, is Baltich’s passion. In November 2020, Baltich will be the Prairie Ronde Artist-in-Residence. He’ll spend several weeks in the old Vicksburg Mill, where he’ll compose new works inspired by that space.

A conversation with Zach Baltich

But first: the caves.

“That was a really fun project I did in 2017,” Baltich says. “A year-long project when I was going around Minnesota and I found cave-like environments to record in. I was looking for interesting acoustic places and also trying to bring the recording process and music process into it. We recorded four different pieces.”

Credit Sam Wagner
Zach Baltich performing at Bryant Lake Bowl

While some of the environments he recorded in were caves, others included abandoned mines and train tunnels.

“It was a fun, adventurous challenge,” he says.

Baltich says his music is a composite of years playing in rock bands and studying classical percussion. That led to a kind of long-form chamber music with experimental elements.

Baltich says he's looking forward to exploring the old paper mill in Vicksburg musically and acoustically.

“Working inside this big old paper mill was really exciting to me,” Baltich says. “Especially since that 'Cavernous' project, I’ve been really interested in creating music for a specific space and then playing it in that space, so the residency in Vicksburg seemed like the perfect fit for me.”

Baltich has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, the Cedar Cultural Center, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. Over the last few years his music for percussion ensemble has been performed by other groups throughout the United States and in Mexico City.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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