By VASHTI HARRIS
MIDDLETOWN– On a mission to create a highly skilled and determined all girls’ choir group, founders and husband and wife duo, John Balme and Cynthia Springsteen-Balme, started the Concordia Youth Chorale.
Officially opening in 2004, the Concordia Youth Chorale is a county choir for all girls ranging from middle school to college ages. The choral organization is based at the Middletown Arts Center, which is located at 36 Church St.
“My wife and I are co-directors of the choir. The choir is part of the Concordia Vocal Academy. There is also an adult choir, which is in residence at [Brookdale Community College] and is called the Brookdale Concordia Chorale,” Director John Balme said.
Singers in Concordia Youth Chorale receive vocal training and music reading training as they move up the ranks of our highly regarded Youth Chorale. Concordia Youth Chorale repertory is chosen from the finest choral selections, ranging from medieval and renaissance classics to contemporary masterworks, and includes ethnic music and Broadway classics, according to the organization’s website.
Balme and his wife have extensive musical backgrounds.
John Balme served as the general director of the Boston Lyric Opera, the Lake George Opera Festival, and as music director of the Liederkranz Foundation in New York City. He has participated as a conductor and/or producer in more than 300 productions and has appeared as a guest conductor in Atlanta, San Diego, Fort Worth, Syracuse, Rochester, Boston, and many other major cities, according to the organization’s website.
Cynthia Springsteen-Balme is a soprano that has performed 40 leading operatic roles, including the New York premiere of Verdi’s Jerusalem at Carnegie Hall. A specialist in the works of Verdi, Ms. Springsteen-Balme has performed 12 of his major operas, six of which were for the New York Grand Opera’s historic presentation of Verdi’s 28 operas in Central Park from 1993 to 2001, according to the organizations’ website.
“Our motto is ‘singing beautiful music in beautiful places.’ With that in mind, we have sung six european tours. We perform every other year at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and have performed several times at Carnegie Hall. Other performances include the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., two trips to Colonial Williamsburg and one concert tour of Montreal and Quebec City. We are returning to Canada this June,” John Balme said.
“We decided an all-girls choir afforded more interesting performance opportunities for the singers,” Balme said. “We decided an all-girls choir afforded more interesting performance opportunities for the singers.”
Balme says that girls from various school come together to form the choir which often times leads to friendships being formed.
“The girls get to become excellent choral singers [and] many go on to college as voice majors. Close friendships are [also] formed between girls from differing school systems,” Balme said.