Balk H. Wesley Balk. Made his transition on March 21, 2003, after a long challenge with Park-inson's disease. Born Oct 31, 1932 in St. Paul, raised in Bagley, MN, a graduate of Bemidji State, earned a doctorate from Yale, a Fulbright scholar, Wes became a significant force in changing music theater performance. Joining the Center Opera Company in 1965 (then affiliated with Walker Art Center), Wes was co-Artistic Director for 17 years, directing more World Premier operas than any other opera company in the world. As Center Opera evolved into the Minnesota Opera, Wes developed a training studio for singer/actors, wrote four books on the subject, and became a global influence on performance training. He expanded this work as a professor of theater at the University of Minnesota from 1970-1995. He was a master of limerick and lyric, particularly on life's questions and challenges, publishing volumes including "The Parky Campfire Songs," the anthropomorphic name he gave his disease, containing verse about the "play" he had with the ailment. A previous marathon runner, Wes was in the process of organizing a personal walk down the Mississippi River for Parkinson's research when his health prevented this. He is survived by his mother, Winifred (Peg) Balk; his wife, Barbara Aurora; three step-children and their seven children; his brother, Don Balk; four nieces and nephews, and the multitude of ideas and teachings he shared through his books, classes and interactions. A "Celebration of Life" gathering for Wes is pending shortly. Call 651-298-9913 for info.

Published on April 6, 2003

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