DepartmentConservatory of Music
Biola AffiliationsFaculty

Degrees

  • M.M. Performance and Literature (Voice), Eastman School of Music
  • B.M. Composition, Biola University
  • Additional studies at University of Calgary (Music Composition)

Biography

Baritone and composer Joel Balzun is establishing himself as a mature new voice in the future of music. His multi-faceted career has led him to work with some of the world’s most respected musicians and ensembles.

Mr. Balzun made his solo debut at the Kennedy Centre in 2014, singing excerpts from Turandot. As a 2016 fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, Mr. Balzun sang alongside Stephanie Blythe in a concert of American song, and Dawn Upshaw and Sanford Sylvan in Shostakovich's brooding Symphony No. 14. Other past appearances include the title role in Don Giovanni, the Four Villains in Les contes d'Hoffmann, Prince Yeletskiy and Count Tomskiy (Pikovaya Dama), Albert (Werther), Belcore (L'elisir d'amore), Dr. Malatesta (Don Pasquale), Valentin (Faust), Sid (Albert Herring), and John Brooke (Little Women, M. Adamo), among others. On the concert stage, Mr. Balzun has been a featured soloist in Copland's Old American Songs, Dvořák’s Te Deum, Fauré's Requiem, Haydn's The Creation, Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, and numerous cantatas of Bach. His acclaimed performance of Bach's Johannes-Passion with the Rochester Bach Festival was recently broadcast multiple times across the United States. An avid proponent of the music of living and contemporary composers, Mr. Balzun won critical acclaim for his portrayal of the titular Joseph de Rocher in the South Florida premiere of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking with Miami Music Festival. He worked with the composer on this work, as well as the role of Charlie in excerpts from Three Decembers. On the concert stage, he has championed rarely-performed works such as George Rochberg's String Quartet No. 7, as well as Peter Maxwell Davies' virtuosic Eight Songs for a Mad King, and numerous performances of Robert Denham's Sutter Creek, among others.

Also an accomplished composer, Mr. Balzun's “haunting and beautiful” music has received international recognition. He was a multiple prize-winner in the 2017 SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers, and a finalist for the 2014 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards. Other accolades include winning the Dallas Wind Symphony’s annual Call for Fanfares, both the Young Composers Prize and the Grand Prize in the National Broadcast Orchestra’s Galaxie Rising Star Composers’ Competition as well as first prize in the Classical Marimba League International Composition Competition.

Mr. Balzun studied music composition and vocal performance at University of Calgary, Biola University and the Eastman School of Music, where he earned his master's degree under the tutelage of Jan Opalach and Benton Hess. He currently serves on the voice faculties of Biola University and Fullerton College.


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