Five minutes with this year’s Joan Carden Award finalists—Morgan Balfour

Soprano Morgan Balfour graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 2013, with a Bachelor of Music in Advanced Performance, Classical Voice. Morgan shares her memories with us of the start of her musical journey.

What influenced your choice to embark on a musical career? Do you remember the first time you performed in front of an audience?

Morgan Balfour

Morgan Balfour

Music has been a big part of my life from a very young age. My Grandmother was a Soprano and my Great-Grandmother was a Mezzo-Soprano. All of my family enjoy music and there were regular sing-alongs at Birthdays, Christmas and other gatherings. I also watched The Sound of Music almost weekly after receiving it as a birthday present.

I started singing lessons at age 9 for fun and I loved it so much that I auditioned for the Young Conservatorium (run through QLD Conservatorium) when I was 10. I heard one of the University students warming up in a room that later became my classroom and decided then and there that I wanted to be an opera singer. I have no idea what made me decide that but it has been all I’ve ever wanted to do since then.

My first performance was at my Primary School Music Night in year 5. I sang Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On to a backing track. I remember that I messed up the lines in the bridge and I was so sure that everyone would know. But afterwards no one mentioned it (either out of kindness or because they genuinely didn’t notice). I sang at every school event after that and have loved being onstage ever since.

How would you describe your musical journey so far?

The best way I can describe my musical journey so far is all encompassing. I recently realised that I would rather be ‘failing’ as a musician than succeeding as anything else. The joys of self-improvement, vocal discoveries, collaborating with other musicians and getting up onstage to perform far outweigh the trails of unsuccessful auditions, illness and poor performances. Every step is a challenge that I look forward to, and I am especially grateful for all the wonderful teachers, coaches and supporters that I have around me.

Which role/piece of music have you enjoyed performing most, and why?

There is no way I can pick a single role or piece of music as a favourite. Most of the music I sing is fulfilling in different ways, even when it’s used as a technical exercise. I love the Bel Canto repertoire and think that Russian Art Song is indescribably beautiful. However, I would say that Mozart is one of my favourite composers, and I am very interested in the strong and complex female characters that he writes. Performing ‘Susanna’ from Le Nozze di Figaro in my final year at University, and ‘Pamina’ from Die Zauberflöte this year in Hawaii was incredibly exciting for me, and I look forward to working on the role of ‘Zerlina’ from Don Giovanni for the Lisa Gasteen Summer School at the end of this year.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

In five year’s time I hope to be performing full time with a company in a FEST or Young Artist Position. I’m not sure where in the world I would most like to be, but as long as I’m singing, I’ll be happy.


The finals of the Joan Carden Award will take place this Sunday, 16 August, commencing at 3pm, at the Great Hall, University of Sydney. Tickets are available from the Seymour Centre and Ticketmaster.

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