The Canadian baritone and composer, Joel Balzun, studied music composition at University of Calgary and Biola University, at the latter of which he earned a Bachelor's of Music Degree in Music Composition He has studied composition with Robert Denham, David Eagle, Laurie Radford, and Christopher Wills. He has also studied voice with William Lock and Michelle Minke, and piano with George Boespflug, Charles Foreman, and Vladimir Levtov. Joel has continued his studies in composition at the Vancouver International Song Institute’s Art Song Lab with Imant Raminsh, as well as the Atlantic Music Festival Institute Composition Program in July 2014. He is currently pursuing a Master’s of Music Degree in Vocal Performance and Literature at the Eastman School of Music, studying with Jan Opalach.
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.
Joel Balzun composes music for a variety of media and ensembles, inspired by the stories and experiences of himself and others. His “haunting and beautiful” music has received international recognition. His accolades include winning the Dallas Wind Symphony’s 9th annual “Call for Fanfares” (2008-2009 season), as well as winning first prize in the Classical Marimba League International Composition Competition (2009). In 2010, he was also a prize-winner in the National Broadcast Orchestra’s Galaxie Rising Star Composers’ Competition, winning both the Young Composers Prize and the Grand Prize. In 2012, Joel was the youngest composer invited to participate in the Art Song Lab through the Vancouver International Song Institute. He was a guest presenter and composer at the CBDNA 2013 National Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 2013, he won second place at Biola University Composition Contest. Notably, Joel was a finalist for the prestigious 2014 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards.
Praised as “a composer to watch” by the Calgary Herald, Joel Balzun has been the recipient of numerous commissions. His music has been performed across Canada, the USA, Costa Rica, and Italy, by ensembles such as Alberta Winds, Calgary Civic Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Dallas Wind Symphony, National Broadcast Orchestra of Canada, La Orquestra Vientos de Costa Rica, Standing Wave Ensemble, and Windago. His music has been broadcast on CBC Radio 2 and Espace Musique in Canada. A selection of Joel’s music is currently published by C. Alan Publications and Lovebird Music. Balzun is also a member of ASCAP, CFAMC and SOCAN, and has served as the composer-in-residence for La Mirada Vocal Arts and First Alliance Church in Calgary, Canada.
As a baritone, Joel Balzun has appeared with California International Theatre Festival, Cowtown Opera Company, La Mirada Vocal Arts, and the Rochester Oratorio Society, among others. His roles include Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia), “chaunard in La bohème, Marquis de la Force and Le Gaoler in Francis Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites, John Brooke in Mark Adamo's Little Women, Count Ceprano and Marullo in Rigoletto, as well as starring in the premiere of Peter Michael von der Nahmer's award-winning opera, El Canguro. Additionally, he has performed excerpts from Carmen, Die Zauberföte, The Medium, Les pêcheurs de perles, and Turandot. In concert, Joel has appeared as a soloist on multiple occasions, singing J.S. Bach’s Cantata BWV 4 and (BWV 245) with the Rochester Bach Festival, Peter Maxwell Davies' virtuosic Eight Songs for a Mad King, Dvorak’s Te Deum, and Haydn’s The Creation. Joel has also directed excerpts from Carmen and Leoš Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen. In April 2014, Joel made his Kennedy Centre debut, representing the Eastman School of Music as a part of the Conservatory Project. Other recent engagements include Howard Hanson’s Merry Mount with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and Rigoletto with Calgary Concert Opera Company.Upcoming engagements include being a guest soloist and composer for the 2014 CFAMC Conference, as well as playing Sid in Albert Herring with Eastman Opera Theatre. Currently, Joel is a Roster Artist with Cowtown Opera Company, with whom he performs in numerous recitals, pop-up performances, and other corporate and media events.