Raised in idyllic, mellow Marin County, California, just outside San Francisco, just after the 60s. Important influences during the impressionable years include Muir Woods, the anti-Vietnam movement, the moon landings, the hip and activist Glide Memorial church, irreverent Mad Magazine, Star Trek, Beatles records, Tom Lehrer, and Grateful Dead concerts. Architect father and pianist mother encourage creative development. Young Mark demonstrates skills in music and acting; eventually decides to go into the theatre.
1980: Attends UCLA, in the Theatre Arts program, where focus is broadened to include electro-acoustic music and sound design, criticism and directing.
1984: Moves to New York to pursue theatre career. By the 1980s, computer work in the financial district has joined restaurant work as a leading day job for actors and other artists. Meets choreographers and graphic artists, collaborates on projects requiring experimental music. As it happens, the first paying gig involves writing music, and a new course is laid.
1991: Enrolls in NYU's Music Department, and leaves the Wall Street day job for opportunities to teach music workshops to children in public schools. Gains degrees in Music Technology and Composition from NYU.
1995: Moves to Montreal to study for Ph.D in Music Technology at McGill University. Current research involves development of auditory displays to illustrate data.
2000: Takes job at Penn State University.
Other immediate family includes one brother, Greg Ballora, also a UCLA Theatre Arts graduate, who is active in the puppetry scene in Los Angeles; and wife, Agatha Juichih Wang, who teaches flute and piano in State College, PA and at the Grier School in Tyrone, PA, and accompanies freelance at Penn State University; and son, Ian, born in 2009, who is fascinated by trains and demonstrates innate talents at percussion and atonal piano improvisation. 

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