New York City-based Doug Balliett is a composer, instrumentalist, and poet with a constant stream of commissions, a weekly show on New York Public Radio, and nearly 200 performances per year.
Raised in central Massachusetts, Balliett graduated from Harvard with honors, in 2007, and from Juilliard, in 2012, with a master’s in Historical Performance. He studied composition with John Harbison, Elliot Gyger, and Philip Lasser. Primarily a composer of vocal music, Balliett has written for Grammy winners Estelí Gomez and Dashon Burton, members of the Trinity Wall Street Choir, and Charlotte Mundy, Davone Tines, and Ariadne Greif. Recent projects include the evening-length A Gnostic Passion, written with his twin brother, Brad, and commissioned by Cantori New York. He has held composer in residence positions with the Lucerne Festival Academy, the Chelsea Music Festival, New Vintage Baroque, the Millennials, and the Colonials. His work has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Juilliard, the Stone, SubCulture, Le Poisson Rouge, Galapagos, ShapeshifterLab, and Spectrum.
Balliett has wide-ranging interests, many of which he shares with Brad. The two host The Brothers Balliett on WQXR’s Q2, a weekly show exploring new music. The brothers also curate a monthly series at Spectrum on the Lower East Side, featuring many major N.Y.C. new-music luminaries. Balliett has given talks at the International Society of Double Bassists on historical performance, conducted many performances of his own works, and composes poetry. Alongside his brother and composer Elliot Cole, Balliett is a member of The Oracle Hysterical, a half-band-half-book-club that has presented hip-hoperas, art-rock song cycles, rap cantatas, and other genre-bending works all over America and Europe.
Trained as a classical double bass player by Todd Seeber during his time at Harvard, Balliett maintains an active career as a performer. He has performed as principal or solo double bassist with Ensemble Modern, the San Antonio Symphony, Alarm Will Sound, and many other ensembles. He has collaborated with musicians from all walks, ranging from Baroque opera at William Christie’s French estate, to tours with pop band Pink Martini, to appearances with MacArthur fellow Steve Coleman at the Newport Jazz Festival. Deeply committed to period instrument performance, Balliett is also principal bassist with the Trinity Wall Street Baroque Orchestra, the Holy Trinity Lutheran Bach Orchestra, 17th-century string band Acronym, and has appeared as principal bass of Les Arts Florissants, Boston Baroque, the Handel and Haydn Society, and the Washington Cathedral. He performs regularly on the viola da gamba and violone.