DepartmentConservatory of Music
Biola AffiliationsFaculty



  • M.A. Music in Vocal Performance Eastman School of Music
  • B.A. Music Composition Biola University
  • Additional studies in Music Composition performed at the University of Calgary


Baritone and composer Joel Balzun holds a master’s degree in vocal performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Jan Opalach and Benton Hess. At Eastman, he was nominated for the Teaching Assistant Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Balzun made his solo debut at the Kennedy Centre in 2014, singing excerpts from Turandot. As a 2016 fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center, 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 (Les contes d'Hoffmann), Prince Yeletskiy and Count Tomskiy (Pikovaya Dama), Albert (Werther), Belcore (L'elisir d'amore), Dr. Malatesta (Don Pasquale), and Valentin (Faust), among others. His acclaimed performance of Johannes-Passion with the Rochester Bach Festival was broadcast multiple times across the United States.

An avid proponent of the music of living and contemporary composers, 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 Biola faculty member Robert Denham's Sutter Creek, among others.

Also an accomplished composer, Balzun was a multiple prize-winner in the 2017 SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers. Other accolades include winning the Dallas Wind Symphony’s annual Call for Fanfares and both the Young Composers Prize and the Grand Prize in the National Broadcast Orchestra’s Galaxie Rising Star Composers’ Competition. His music has been performed across the Americas as well as in Asia.

He currently serves on the voice faculties of Biola University and Fullerton College. In addition to teaching voice lessons at both institutions, Balzun also teaches group voices classes and song literature. At Biola, he previously served as the vocal coach and rehearsal pianist for Biola Opera, and the director of Opera Scenes.

For more information, including upcoming performances, visit


  • Society of Composers, Inc. (SCI), 2015-present
  • National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), 2014-present
  • College Music Society (CMS), 2014-present
  • Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers (CFAMC), 2013-present
  • American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), 2010-present
  • Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), 2010-present


  • Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Solo Competition: Robert & Winifred Connelly Green Award, April 2019.
  • Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions: Encouragement Award, Western Region, January 2019.
  • Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions: Winner, Los Angeles District, October 2018.
  • Rochester Classical Idol: Finalist, April 2018.
  • Gwendolyn Roberts Young Artist Competition: First Place, March 2018.
  • James Toland Vocal Arts Competition: Semi-Finalist in Category I, March 2018.
  • George London Competition: Semi-Finalist, February 2018.
  • SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers: 2nd place, Pierre Mercure Awards, Louise, August 2017.
  • SOCAN Foundation Awards for Young Composers: 3rd place, Godfrey Ridout Awards, Home Songs, August 2017.
  • Angels Vocal Arts: Vittorio Grigòlo Masterclass participant, April 2017.

Publications (Selected)

  • FORTHCOMING (title tbd): CD recorded by All of the Above
  • FORTHCOMING True North: CD recorded by Dr. Glenn D. Price & University of Calgary Wind Ensemble
  • Rescue: CD featuring own compositions as well as Negro Spirituals: justmusic, AB (CANADA)
  • Twisted Dances for marimba and cello: C. Alan Publications, NC (USA)
  • Apollo for brass ensemble with percussion: Lovebird Music, TX (USA)
  • Was/Am/Will Be for soprano and piano (2018)
    • partial performance by Lynx Project April 27 and 28, 2019
    • premiered and recorded by Keely Futterer and Kseniia Barrad: March 2, 2019
    • commissioned by Lynx Project; workshop performance by Keely Futterer and Kseniia Barrad: October 2018
  • My light, my mind, and my dreams for medium-high voice and piano (2017)
    • partial performance by Lynx Project April 27 and 28, 2019
    • commissioned by Lynx Project; premiered and recorded: October 27 and 28, 2017
  • Everyone was a bird for men's chorus and piano (2017, rev. 2019)
    • commissioned by Matthew Kellaway and the Biola Men's Chorus; premiered and recorded April 7, 2019
  • Chinook Arch for orchestra (2016)
    • commissioned by Marlin Owen and the Biola Symphony Orchestra; premiered and recorded: November 19, 2016
  • Yet Am I Wise for soprano and piano (2016)
    • commissioned by Addie Rose Brown; premiered and recorded by Addie Rose Brown and Wenjie Lu: October 23, 2016 


  • MUSC 102 (Voice Class) 
  • MUSC 156-157 (Lyric Diction I and II) 
  • MUSC 251-252 (Song Literature I and II)

Areas of Expertise for Media Interviews

  • Music
  • Opera
  • Art Song
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