M.A. (Oxon), G.S.M.D.
A native Welshman, Jason Balla began his music studies at the age of six with the piano and violin. Growing up in the strong choral tradition of Wales he began choral conducting at age sixteen when he formed his own chamber choir, the Neath Chorale. He also studied trumpet, guitar and organ and at age eighteen was awarded the prestigious Organ Scholarship to study music at Balliol College, Oxford. At university Jason studied with such renowned organists as Gillian Weir and Nicholas Kenyon and was the recipient of numerous awards and other scholarships. It was also at Oxford, fully immersed in the English choral tradition that his love of choral music intensified while also being in the privileged position of singing with the choir of New College, Oxford as tenor lay clerk under the direction of Dr. Edward Higginbottom. He also sang regularly with groups such as Schola Cantorum of Oxford and the Clerks of Oxenford.
Jason’s passion for choral training continued at Balliol College where he developed and trained a choir of 30 singers in a wide ranging repertoire of British and European choral music. He spent six years studying and performing with Laszlo Heltay and the award winning Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Chorus. Several years spent working and performing with the British Youth Choir was instrumental in him developing a solid choral training technique.
After graduating Jason spent some time working as a radio broadcaster in Hong Kong where he produced and presented a series of programs on choral music through the centuries and the European choral traditions. Having then received his Master of Arts degree from Oxford University he continued advanced vocal and opera studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He has also studied privately with such internationally acclaimed singers as Nicolai Gedda in Switzerland and Carlo Bergonzi at the Accademia di Busseto in Italy.
As a conductor and choral trainer his choral repertoire ranges from masterworks of the renaissance through Handel oratorios and Mozart masses to 20th century English choral pieces. He has conducted performances of Mozart operas as well as operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan. His orchestral repertoire includes Handel Concerti Grossi, Mozart symphonies and orchestral works by Benjamin Britten. Jason also previously held the positions of Organist at St. Catherine of Siena, Chicago, as well as Music Director at Chicago Sinai Congregation. He has also composed and arranged numerous compositions in Hebrew and English for the Synagogue.
As a teacher of music and voice in particular Jason has tutored at the University of Oxford, Hong Kong International School, Goldsmith’s College of Music, University of Madison, Wisconsin and is a former faculty member of Roosevelt University, Chicago.
As a singer he has appeared regularly in opera, concert and oratorio throughout the U.K., Europe, the Far East, and North America. He has performed most of the major concert and oratorio works, including Verdi’s Requiem in Chicago and London; Lloyd Webber’s Requiem in London and Edmonton; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Victoria, B.C. and London, and Dvorak’s Requiem with the Birmingham Festival Chorus and Orchestra in the U.K.. He has also recorded recitals of French and English music for Radio Hong Kong and has also been featured on CBC and BBC radio broadcasts, as well as CD recordings of Mozart’s Requiem and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Slovak Philharmonic.
Jason was a company member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago from 1995-2018 and on the mainstage has sung the role of Emperor Altoum in Puccini’s Turandot; he has also sung the role of Nathanael in the Lyric Opera Center performances of The Tales of Hoffman at the Grant Park Music Festival. He has sung with and accompanied both the Grant Park Symphony Chorus and the Chicago Symphony Chorus. On the international opera stage Jason has performed in more than 1200 opera performances and in more than 100 opera productions. During the 1997 and 1998 seasons Jason was Acting Chorus Master for the renowned Grant Park Symphony Chorus, working on Janacek’s Glagolithic Mass, Puccini’s Messa Di Gloria and Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia.
His Organ and Piano instrumental recital tours have taken him from the West Coast of the U.S.A. to Germany, the U.K. and the Far East. He has been a guest organist at such places as Westminster Abbey, London, Grace Cathedral, California, St. John’s Cathedral, Hong Kong, as well as being in demand as a vocal coach and accompanist.