Associate Professor Nancy María Balach is a versatile soprano who has been described by American Record Guide as “sweet and tender …, projecting music, text, and character.” As Isabel in Sousa’s El Capitan (Albany Records, 2011), “Nancy Maria Balach sings exquisitely as Isabel — her song in the second act is a highlight.” Opera News reviewed the recording, “All the performances from the bright young cast are delightful.”
Professor Balach’s performing career has included opera, operetta, musical theatre, concert, cabaret, song recital, and chamber music. On the operatic stage she has performed and covered roles with Florida Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Cleveland, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Tulsa Opera. Some of her roles include: Pamina in The Magic Flute, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and Annio in La clemenza di Tito. She has extensive operetta experience, performing in more than 26 productions with the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players and the Ohio Light Opera. Her leading Gilbert and Sullivan roles include: Yum-Yum in The Mikado, Princess Zara in Utopia Limited, Tessa in The Gondoliers, and Lisa in The Grand Duke. Professor Balach has also performed lead roles in operetta productions by Leonard Bernstein, Victor Herbert, Charles Lecocq, Jacques Offenbach, and Johann Strauss. Her musical theatre credits include productions by Lerner and Loewe, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Stephen Sondheim. Professor Balach has done extensive concert work with the symphonies of Acadiana (LA), Canton (Ohio), Mississippi, North Carolina, Tupelo (MS), and Tuscaloosa (AL). She has performed as soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Egmont, Fauri’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, and Poulenc’s Gloria, as well as numerous musical theatre pops Concerts.
She has recorded lead roles for Newport Classic (Gretchen in Victor Herbert’s The Red Mill, Princess Zara in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Utopia Limited and Ciboletta in Johann Strauss’ A Night in Venice), New World Records (Beatriz in Leonardo Balada’s Escenas Borrascosas), VOX Classics (Nancy in Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring), and the title role on the first complete recording of Emmerich Kalman’s The Violet of Montmartre for the Operetta Archives label.
In competition she has won the Audience Choice Award at the American Traditions Competition in Savannah Georgia, was a regional finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (Great Lakes Region), and a Pittsburgh Concert Society Recital Series winner.
Professor Balach is an active recitalist performing innovative programs internationally. She is an advocate of new music and has premiered several works by American and Canadian composers. She has also commissioned two works for soprano, trumpet and piano by composers Stanley Friedman (Fame’s Penny-Trumpet, text by Lewis Carroll) and Jack Gallagher (Let me make songs, text by Frances E. W. Harper).
Professor Balach has achieved recognition with her research projects, many inspired by living composers. Most recently she was selected to present at the 2012 College Music Society Conference in San Diego, California (“21st Century Approach to Classical Music”) and was a featured presenter at the 2012 National Association of Teachers of Singing National Convention in Orlando, Florida (“Celebrating Canadian Song”). She has also showcased her research at the 2012 National Opera Association’s Convention in Memphis, Tennessee (“Made in America”), the 2011 National College Music Society Conference in Richmond, VA (“New Chamber Works with Composers’ Insights”), and the 2011 Phenomenon of Singing Symposium in Newfoundland (“Made in America”). Additionally, she has been a selected presenter at the College Music Society’s 2011 and 2009 Southern Regional Conferences, National Opera Association’s 2010, 2009, 2007, and 2006 National Conventions, NATS 2010 and 2008 Southern Regional Conferences, and the 2007 Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities.
Professor Balach has been on the faculty at the University of Mississippi since 2000 and has taught courses in applied voice, graduate pedagogy, undergraduate diction, and vocal methods for instrumentalists. She has been invited to give master classes in Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, and Mississippi. She considers the career development of her students to be of top importance. Her students have become successful performers, dedicated teachers, won competitions, participated in prestigious summer programs, and continued their studies in masters or doctoral programs at respected music schools. In 2012 several of her students were selected to work with composer Ricky Ian Gordon at the NATS Winter Workshop in Memphis, Tennessee.
Professor Balach approaches singing as a sport and encourages an active lifestyle for her students. She has a strong background in dance (ballet, tap and jazz), having studied at Carnegie Mellon University, Musical Theatre Works Conservatory for New York University, and with Mary Petrov (co-founder of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre). She is currently a Zumba Instructor for Baptist Memorial Hospital’s Healthplex in Oxford and also teaches KidFit dance classes to children and their parents. She was dance captain for a production of La Rondine at Opera Theatre St. Louis and has choreographed several productions for the University of Mississippi’s Opera Theatre.
Professor Balach makes service a priority. She volunteers to lead the Cherub Choir at First Presbyterian Church in Oxford, Mississippi and to be the Children’s Music Director for a Vacation Bible School Program in Wooster, Ohio (serving 160 children). She has also been a featured artist on two Link Up Concerts sponsored by New York City’s Carnegie Hall. In February 2013 she sang, narrated, and danced on a Carnegie Hall Link Up Concert entitled The Orchestra Moves for 2,800 public school students and teachers.
Professor Balach is the Vice-President for the Mississippi Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and is an active member of Chamber Music America, College Music Society, National Opera Association, and Pi Kappa Lambda. She received her BFA in Vocal Performance from Carnegie Mellon University and her MM in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music.
Nancy María Balach enjoys life in Oxford with her husband and three children. A fun fact about Professor Balach is that she was a contestant (making it to the final round) on America’s favorite game show, Wheel of Fortune in 2012.