Mario Balestra was born in Castelfidardo, Italy. As a young boy he worked with his father Claudio and his uncle Goffredo in their accordion factory. After completing harmony and counterpoint with Adamo Volpi, Mr. Balestra received a virtuoso degree in accordion from the Lanaro Music Academy in Rome. At the age of 20 he soloed with the Barzizza Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Piero Rizzi.
In 1964, Mr. Balestra moved to the US where he began working as a technician in New Jersey for the Guild Guitar Marker, an importer of accordions. He continued his modal harmony studies applied to jazz with Tony Zano of the Boston Conservatory and accomplished additional harmony studies with Lee Evans of the Columbia University School of Music and jazz accordion with Al Astone.
Mario Balestra has been a teacher and noteworthy accordion freelancer in the US for over thirty years, backing a great variety of artists like Maurice Chevalier, Joan Crawford, Carlo Bergonzi, Frank Sinatra Jr., Julius La Rosa, Vic Damone, Nino Rossano, The Scintilles, Tony and Geney Stevens, Stanley Broad, Bobby Vinton, Pat Jovine and Sy Wayne. Additionally he has performed with musicians like Al Di Miola, Tony Zano, Sally Man, Lou Shuster, Jerry Cat, Mike Panebianco, Steve White, Bobby Wina, Phil Garr, Carl Moscowitz, Jack Began, Eddie Monteiro, Charles Nunzio, Al Haughen and many others.
As a member of many noteworthy ensembles, Marion Balestra has worked with the Al Altiere Quintet, Tony Stevens Trio, Steve Della Quartet, Al Silver Orchestra, The Duke Quintet, The Nobleman, Hal Darnell Quintet, John Koening Big Band, Romeo Olilvieri Orchestra Italiana, Angelo Muto Quartet, Tony Oriolo Duo, Harty and Eddie Flatté Trio, Marty Sloane Orchestra, Joe Petrone Sestett, Peter August Quintet, Big Band at Concorde Resort and Hotel, and several high fashion shows at the Plaza, Saint Regis and Waldorf Astoria Hotels in New York.
In 1991 Mario Balestra returned to Italy, where he continued to teach privately and to serve as an examination jury member in various competitions and jazz workshops. He continued to perform concerts in Italy and abroad, and for six years Balestra hosted an annual accordion festival at Recoardo Terme. From 2005 to 2010 Mario Balestra played exclusively Polverini accordion, representing them at Frankfurt Fair Germany and Shanghai Fair China. he returned to the U.S. in 2012 and he is still enjoying his accordion “Grand Concerto Balestra” made by his father Claudio and continually writes new books and new songs.