Dr. 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 as soloist and in recital in Germany, Russia, and the U.S.
Balge is artistic director and founder of the Summit Avenue Music Series (SAMS). She recently received an Artist Grant through the Prairie Lake Regional Arts Council, a grant sponsored by the McKnight Foundation. Last year she performed the Schumann A Minor Concerto with the Mankato Symphony Orchestra under conductor Kenneth Freed. She is a member of the Bekesh Trio https://bekeshtrio.com/, along with violinist Kenneth Freed and cellist Sharon Mautner-Rodgers.
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. She currently serves on the faculty at Martin Luther College and at Bethany Lutheran College.
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 under 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. As an undergraduate, she was awarded the Sudler Prize as the senior “who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in the creative or performing arts” while at Michigan State University.