Born in the Dutch city of Zaandam in 1973, Chris van Balen started taking cello lessons at the age of fifteen, going on to study with Lenian Benjamin, Jean Decroos and Melissa Phelps at the conservatories of Utrecht and Amsterdam.
He has participated in masterclasses with Mstislav Rostropovich, Daniil Shafran, Bernard Greenhouse, Wolfgang Böttcher, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Colin Carr, Ivan Monighetti, Anner Bylsma, William Pleeth, Steven Isserlis, Martti Rousi and Dmitri Ferschtman.
His first audition, at the age of twenty-five, resulted in his appointment with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1998. That same year, he won first prize at the Postbank Sweelinck Competition, the predecessor of the Cello Biennale competition.
Van Balen has given solo performances of the cello concertos of Schumann, Dvořák, Haydn, Boccherini, Tchaikovsky, Elgar, Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich. He also plays chamber music in various ensembles, including the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra and Camerata RCO.
During and following tours with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, he has given solo and chamber music recitals in Japan, the US and various South American and European countries.
Chris plays the Miremont cello from the collection of RCO donors’ foundation Stichting Donateurs that was previously played by the now retired solo cellist Godfried Hoogeveen.