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Summit Avenue Music Series continues at MLC

MLC’s Bethel Balge to collaborate with musicians from all over the world

Submitted photo The Summit Avenue Music Series, a three-part music series, will resume on September 15 at Martin Luther College.

NEW ULM — Bethel Balge has always had a passion for performing music. As a long-time piano player, she’s figured out how to turn that passion into something that unites music lovers all over the City of New Ulm.

Balge, who teaches music history and gives piano lessons at both Martin Luther College and Bethany Lutheran College, wanted to team up with other musicians to bring new options to the table musically for New Ulm. She envisioned a series of performances with different performers and eventually the Summit Avenue Music Series was created. She pitched the idea to those at MLC and she was able to get the approval that she needed. The first series started in 2016 and it’s been going ever since.

“I knew that we would have an audience in New Ulm in part because this type of music wasn’t being offered and I knew we had a beautiful venue to hold concerts in, mainly the Chapel of the Christ on Martin Luther College’s Campus,” Balge said. “We even have our own famous Summit Avenue here in New Ulm, which is where it got it’s name.”

The Summit Avenue Music Series (SAMS) will have its first performance of the year called Tangos, et cetera on Sunday, September 15 at Martin Luther College. Show time is 3 p.m.

The show will feature Soh Hyun-Park Altino on the violin, Leonard Altino on the cello, and Balge on the piano. Additional shows will be January 19, 2020 and April 5, 2020.

Submitted photo The French Connection is the second part of the Summit Avenue Music Series and will be performed at Martin Luther College on January 19, 2020. Left to right: Richard Belcher, Peter McGuire, Bethel Balge.

Balge said that the Summit Avenue Music Series is known for its chamber music, which is a small gathering of musicians who perform classical pieces. It allows for the audience to observe the action up close. The performers are world-wide talents and Balge is looking forward to that.

“It’s exciting I think to have performers from around the world coming to New Ulm,” Balge said. “The musicians who participate have international careers and are performing at the top of their craft. Newcomers to our concert have spoken to me about being energized by the experience and couldn’t believe the quality of music, especially in their back yard.”

Balge wanted to make sure there was enough support to make the project work. It took a lot of time and planning, but eventually everything fell into place.

“I had support from the personnel at Martin Luther College and it was very important to make this work,” she said. “We also have grants that we received from the New Ulm Area Foundation and also from the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council. We also received money from individual patrons.

“In order to have a successful series, it takes a certain amount of planning, so it had been something that I had been thinking about for a long time,” Balge said. “What makes a series is also knowing musicians and there were a number of musicians that I had collaborated with and you get to know musicians through the musical grapevine. I have performed with a lot of musicians in the past and this is an important element in the success of the performing because a lot of performing is intuitive and you need to know your performers well in order to inspire and communicate to the audience.”

Submitted photo Tangos, et cetera is the first part of the Summit Avenue Music Series and will be performed on September 15 at Martin Luther College. Left to right: Soh-Hyun Park Altino (violin), Leonardo Altino (cello), Bethel Balge (piano).

The January 19, 2020 show, called the French Connection, features Peter McGuire on violin, Richard Belcher on cello and Balge on piano. The third show on April 5 is called Cello Treasures and Perry Karp will perform on the cello with Kathryn Wurster (soprano) and Balge (piano).

In addition to the three SAMS shows, there will be a special Altinos Presentation at 10 a.m., Saturday, September 14 titled “Growing up in Korea and Brazil: A Musical Journey”. That show will be held at the Chapel of the Christ at MLC.

As for Balge, the music series is a chance to get together with friends in different capacities. She’s looking forward to the three performances and the chance to interact with the audience.

“For me, as a performer, I just love to perform with these musicians who are really top notch,” she said. “The core of our audience, who have a little bit of musical background, I’m very inspired by responses from the audience. The people that I perform with are friends, but everyone in the audience is a friend too. It’s a very special, collaborative experience to share with everybody, musicians and audience.”

Submitted photo Cello Treasures is the third part of the Summit Avenue Music Series and will be performed on April 5, 2020 at Martin Luther College. Left to right: Parry Karp, Kathryn Wurster, Bethel Balge

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