An intensive Eastern European music and culture experience for motivated young musicians ages 12-22.

FACULTY

Faculty bios

BALKAPALOOZA! faculty members Colleen Bertsch and Natalie Nowytski are seasoned instructors and performers of Eastern European folk music. Although both are classically trained musicians, both women have traveled extensively to study, collect and accurately perform traditional music of Eastern Europe.

Colleen Bertsch

Colleen Bertsch

Colleen holds a Bachelor of Music, Violin Performance degree from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN and a Bachelor of Music, Music Education degree from the University of Minnesota. Upon graduating in 1999, she served as director of orchestral programs in the Hastings, Bloomington and Roseville Area school districts and currently maintains a private violin studio in Northeast Minneapolis. Colleen has traveled to France, Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia and Mexico to study, perform and collect folk music and culture. She is a student of Vizeli Balazs, lead violinist of Teka, the highly acclaimed Hungarian folk ensemble based in Budapest. Colleen is the violinist for the international folk dance band Orkestar Bez Ime (OBI) and a member of Ethnic Dance Theatre.

Natalie Nowytski

Natalie Nowytski

A classically trained vocalist and performer since childhood, Natalie has been an active teacher, director and student of international folk music since 1996. She has traveled to Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France and Ukraine to study culture and folk music. Often dubbed "chameleon voice," Natalie sings in more than 40 languages—including her native Ukrainian—and in over a dozen distinct vocal styles. She has performed with Peter Ostroushko, Ruth MacKenzie and other folk luminaries. As a vocalist and director of Mila Vocal Ensemble, she has repeatedly appeared on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion and at the prestigious Koprivshtitsa folk festival in Bulgaria. Although she calls the voice her main instrument, Natalie plays nearly a dozen folk and classical instruments and is the vocalist/percussionist for local folk dance band Orkestar Bez Ime (OBI).

BALKAPALOOZA! artwork