Bethel Balge, pianist

Bethel Balge’s “highly concentrated, technically secure and captivating interpretation” of Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit entranced a reviewer from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Recipient of Michigan State University’s Louis B. Sudler Prize in the Arts, Balge has performed in Germany, including at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, in Russia as a soloist with the Voronezh Philharmonic, and in Portugal as a competitor in the Porto, Portugal International Competition.

In December 2014, Balge received a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Minnesota. A scholarship student of Lydia Artymiw, Balge performed as a soloist in a Minnesota Public Radio live broadcast in the Bach Birthday concert organized by MPR host Michael Barone.  As a collaborator, Balge performs regularly in the Chamber Music Performance Series at Bethany Lutheran College (Mankato, MN). In 2016, Balge joined violinist Kenneth Freed, member of the Minnesota Orchestra, and Sharon Rodgers, cellist, to form the Bekesh Trio.

Balge spent almost six years in Germany during which she studied piano performance at the University of Frankfurt’s Staatliche Hochschule fuer Musik und darstellende Kunst. The Hochschule granted her a Diplom and the Hochschule faculty’s board of examiners invited her to continue her studies at the Konzertexam level, the terminal program of the German university system. Previously she received her Master of Music (M.M.) from the University of Wisconsin, where she studied with Howard Karp.  She is a cum laude graduate (Bachelor of Music) of Michigan State University, where she studied under Van Cliburn gold prize winner Ralph Votapek.

Balge has received numerous awards, including first place in the Grand Rapids Concerto Competition, first place in the Michigan State University Concerto Competition, first place in the Beethoven Competition in Madison, WI, first place in the Ida Schroeder Foundation Scholarship Competition in Milwaukee, WI, finalist in the Chicago Civic Orchestra Concerto Competition and third place in the Esther Wilburne Barnes National Competition in Georgia. She was awarded the Sudler Prize, given to the senior “who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in the creative or performing arts” while at Michigan State University.

She teaches piano, piano pedagogy, and piano literature courses at Bethany Lutheran College and piano at Martin Luther College (New Ulm, MN) and supervised teaching assistants at the University of Minnesota. Balge’s students have earned prizes in various Twin Cities competitions.

Balge practices at home on a Blüthner grand piano, which belonged to her great grandfather’s sister Gertrud Schütze, a piano teacher at the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany.