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SXSW: Balmorhea and Hauschka

KUHF’s Meghan Hendley reports back from SXSW with interviews from Volker Bertelman (also known as Hauschka), and the Austin-based group Balmorhea.


To many, the piano is perceived as a pure tone, 88 key, perfectly pitched instrument. To Volker Bertelman, otherwise known as ‘Hauschka’, the piano goes beyond it’s initial purpose. Influenced by everything from Krautrock to Erik Satie to Philip Glass, Hauschka blurs the lines of classical and contemporary with flares of strings and electronic textures. Many of his compositions start with improvisation, starting with a melodic idea or gesture, that is then enclosed by layers of cascading violins or the chatter of industrial noise. Lately, his compositions lean towards a deep bass line from the piano which anchors the tonality of the piece while rhythmic shifts and minimalist patterns swirl around the melody.

SXSW presented Hauschka’s first opportunity to perform in the Lone Star State even providing him with a string ensemble to allow his composition’s colors to come alive. The venue of Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Austin provided the perfect reverberating acoustics that captured each swoop of sound. Other artists performing in the sacred space that evening included avant-garde cellist Zoe Keating, violinist Volodja Balazorsky (who was featured in one of our first segments on SXSW), along with Austin based group Balmorhea. I salute SXSW for taking note of a cross over genre of music that usually goes unrecognized. In addition, I appreciate the diversity of classical progressive groups in a perfect acoustic setting, sharing a color of music away from the chatter of clubs and bars where an audience could fully soak in the intricacies of the music. Check out the links below to hear some tracks along with two conversations I had with both Hauschka and Balmorhea:

Balmorhea: Download

Hauschka: Download