Choral Conductor, Director, and Guitar Ensemble Teacher
Desiree Balfour is in the third year of her terminal degree program (Doctorate of Musical Arts) in the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA and was named as the inaugural Paul and Barbara Bent Choral Fellow for meritorious achievement within her discipline. A native of southern California, she received the Most Outstanding Student Award in Music Education while completing her music education degree from the CSU-Northridge. While completing her Master's degree in Music from the internationally recognized Choral Conducting program housed each summer at CSU-Los Angeles, she received a special recognition in graduate studies.
After serving for five years as director of choral and guitar activities at Nightingale Middle School in Los Angeles, Desiree became one of three music teachers to start the music program at Ramon C. Cortines High School of Visual and Performing Arts. Desiree’s choral, guitar and vocal jazz ensembles, have all been recognized throughout California as performing at Superior levels at Heritage, District, Verdugo Hills a cappella Scholarship, and Forum Music Festivals. In 2013, the Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) presented Desiree with America’s Excellence in Guitar Education award. As well, in 2014, Desiree was honored to be named a quarterfinalist, selected from more than 7,000 nominations, for the second annual Music Educator Award presented by the Grammy Foundation.
As a teacher and conductor, Desiree had the privilege of being a three-time honor choir director including the Southern California Vocal Association's Jr. High Honor Choir in 2014 and Los Angeles Unified School District's Eighth Annual Middle School Honor Music Festival in 2011 and Honor Choir Conductor for Kennedy High School District in 2019. She has served as both a vocal and guitar adjudicator in LA Unified festivals, as a regular choral adjudicator/clinician for Southern CA Vocal Association, and for five years she conducted members of the LAMC Chamber Singers while collaborating with Los Angeles Master Chorale’s Voices Within oratorio project. As a long-term ambassador for the non-profit group Little Kids Rock, as well as during her term as president of the Los Angeles Secondary Music Teacher’s Association, Desiree worked on developing curriculum, organizing events and opportunities for both teachers and students. She also continued to work with guitar students as a director for the first annual GFA 2017 week-long guitar summit.
Prior to starting her doctorate program, Desiree served as the first assistant conductor of VOX Femina, Los Angeles under the direction of Dr. Iris Levine where she was instrumental in launching VOX's Youth Outreach program, and which she continues to be a proud member of today.
Desiree joined the original Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts faculty in Fall 2009 where she taught and conducted eight different music ensembles: various levels of classical guitar ensembles, and choral ensembles, including Vocal Jazz. She also rans and sponsored the School’s Rock Band Club. She earned her Music Education degree and Credential from the California State University, Northridge and her Masters in Music from the internationally recognized Choral Conducting program housed each summer at California State, Los Angeles. She has previously served for five years as director of choral and guitar activities at Nightingale Middle School in Los Angeles. Additionally, she is currently the President of Los Angeles Secondary Music Teacher's Association (LASMTA).
Desiree was named as the inaugural Paul and Dottie Bent Choral Fellow form meritorious achievement within her discipline at UCLA in 2019 and was awarded Guitar Foundation of America’s Excellence in Guitar Education award in 2013, Special Recognition in Graduate Studies, 2012, and Most Outstanding Student Award in Music Education; CSU, Northridge, 2002. Other honors include, Who's Who in America- Featured Profile 2011 & Published in Roger Wagner Center For Choral Studies, 2009. In addition, Desiree's ensembles, Choral, Guitar and Vocal Jazz, have all been recognized as performing at Superior levels at Heritage, District, A cappella Scholarship, and Forum Music Festivals.
Desiree Balfour has participated in numerous festivals, workshops, and events as a leader, organizer, adjudicator, and clinician. She served as the President for the Los Angeles Secondary Music Teachers Association and is a teacher trainer for the District and previously for the national non-profit, Little Kids Rock. She was selected as the Choral representative for the Secondary Music Curriculum Group for LAUSD in 2008 and spearheaded, organized and developed LAUSD’s Music Education Handbook 2007-2016. Desiree has been a Master Teacher for Students teachers from California State University, Northridge, California State University, Dominguez Hills and University of Southern California. She has assisted the Los Angeles Unified School District's Arts Education Branch in writing curriculum and course descriptions for LAUSD and has been a mentor and led trainings for Secondary music teachers. For the past three years she has hosted Instructional District Choral Festivals and Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) Regional Symposiums and has ongoing partnerships with the Los Angeles Master Chorale both through the Oratorio Project, via Voices Within & in the Los Angeles Master Chorale High School Choir Festival.
Highly invested and involved in her school site(s), Desiree served as Beginning Teacher Support & Assessment (BTSA) Support Provider 2007- 2009, school’s website committee administrator: 2008-2009 (manager of music page 2009-present), professional development committee facilitator 2008-09, and school site/governing/operations council member and officer: 2006-present.
Desiree has worked under many reputable professors, teachers, and conductors including Dr. James K. Bass, Dr. Iris Levine, Professor Neal Stulberg, Donald Brinegar, Paul Smith, Mary Purdy, Janice Kueppers, and Dr. William Belan, singing in various choirs including Northridge Singers whom won the honor of “Choir of the World” in Wales, 2003. She is dedicated being a life long learner and musician as well as to the health and improvement of Music Education in Los Angeles Unified and in the United States in general.