Dr. Alison Balbag
Alison Balbag is a double Dr. professor, musician, and healthspan-gerontologist. An outlier in our world, she’s been fortunate to achieve two doctorates in separate fields: music and gerontology. Her diversity — along with being a multiracial first-generation college graduate — grants her a unique insight into connecting the dots.
Advocating for a shared future that serves everyone, she applies her background in gerontology — i.e. aging — across many ecosystems in our lives: health and wellness, the arts, education, the environment, social justice, and civic progress.
As a harpist, she’s soloed with orchestras, placed first in competitions, premiered new works, and performed in orchestras and chamber ensembles. Her TV and radio performances include Modern Family, Glee, PBS Great Performances, and Classical KUSC. A versatile musician, she’s performed with Stevie Wonder, Pink Martini, Natalie Cole, Bobby McFerrin, Burt Bacharach, Itzhak Perlman, Josh Groban, and LeVar Burton. She’s also recorded harp for film scores and Google — a collaboration which won a Webby Award.
Her research looks at music’s connections with health, well-being, and society at all ages across the lifespan. Her work has been some of the first to look at music’s long-term brain health benefits. She regularly speaks about why music matters, and her media coverage includes National Geographic, Psychology Today, Psychiatry Advisor, Spirit, and The Los Angeles Times.
An innovative educator, Dr. Alison’s faculty posts range from being a professor at the University of Southern California (USC), to the Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil) where she taught music in underserved schools.
The arts are an essential component of society: They're a human right and have the power to build healthy communities, heal, promote social justice, and help us flourish. She advocates for universal arts access for everyone and has developed multiple arts integration programs.
Dr. Alison also serves as a city arts commissioner and is a candidate for Metro Councilor, District 3 in Oregon’s 2020 primary to serve the entire Portland metro region.