“The Elektra music has – in the relentlessly modern, yet sweet and sensual reading of Michael Balke – downright drug character.
This is like ecstasy. A very impressive performance of orchestra and conductor.”
- Dieter David Scholz, MDR Figaro
“Musical goose bumps!”
“One aspect of a peak musical performance in the orchestral world is when the ensemble precision is locked tight and the notes are flying fast, yet there is a fluffy airiness to the music. That paradoxical pairing of tight control with a lofty bounce in the sound infused the solid bones of this symphony with new life.
Balke clearly has a way with this music and the orchestra was quick and ready to deliver what he sought, and likely more. There was a definite connection with the audience which clearly loved what they heard.”
- HERALD TRIBUNE
Equally at home in the symphonic and opera repertoire the German conductor Michael Balke has gained international acclaim for his performances. He regularly follows invitations to many European countries as well as Japan, South Korea, and the USA.
After his debut at the Munich Gärtnerplatz State Theatre in 2022, he was appointed as Principal Guest Conductor starting in the 2023/24 season.
His guest conducting engagements have taken him to Verona ("Salome"), the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen ("La bohème"), various Japan tours including Tokyo and Osaka ("Die lustige Witwe," "Madama Butterfly"), the Semperoper Dresden ("Die Zauberflöte"), the Sofia Opera ("Don Carlo"), the Opéra national de Lorraine in Nancy ("L’Heure espagnole" and "Gianni Schicchi"), and St. Gallen ("Die Fledermaus," "Tosca," "Faust," "Il trovatore", "Norma"). He also frequently conducts rarely performed works of the German Romantic period such as Franz Schreker's "Die Gezeichneten" and Franz Schmidt's "Notre Dame." In 2024, he will make his debut at the Theater an der Wien with Poulenc's "La voix humaine."
He has recently collaborated with orchestras such as the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Copenhagen Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Arena di Verona, Residentie Orkest Den Haag, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, Munich Radio Orchestra, Munich Symphony Orchestra, Latvian National Orchestra, Taiwan Philharmonic, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Osaka Philharmonic, and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra Tokyo.
He maintains a regular collaboration with singers such as Ludovic Tézier, Lawrence Brownlee, Michael Spyres, Juan Diego Flórez, and Marina Rebeka, as well as soloists like Midori and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. He has conducted concerts at venues including the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Metropolitan Theatre Tokyo, KKL Luzern, Alte Oper Frankfurt, and the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg.
From 2011 to 2016, he served as the Deputy General Music Director at Theater Magdeburg. There, he conducted a broad repertoire of opera productions ranging from Mozart, Rossini, and Donizetti to Verdi, Stravinsky, Korngold, and Richard Strauss, as well as numerous symphony concerts. Highlights of this period include "Der Rosenkavalier" and a new production of "Elektra." From 2018 to 2021, he held the position of Principal Guest Conductor at the Theater St. Gallen.
In 2022, he initiated and conducted the "Concert for Tomorrow" at the Isarphilharmonie Munich, where Ukrainian refugees played alongside professional musicians from all major Munich orchestras. The concert, under the patronage of former Federal President Gauck, supports the reconstruction of the destroyed music school in Butscha and the local cultural life.
In 2020, he was nominated as "Conductor of the Year" and "Emerging Artist of the Year" at the "Opus Klassik" awards for his complete recording of "La traviata" with Marina Rebeka, Charles Castronovo, and George Petean.
Michael Balke studied conducting with Christopher Zimmerman, piano with James Tocco, and chamber music with members of the LaSalle String Quartet, Tokyo String Quartet, and Menahem Pressler at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and the Lübeck Academy of Music.