“Singers are actresses who smile in tones and and speak with authority.” – Carmen Balthrop (1948 – 2021)
A personal tribute from Heifetz Institute Founder Daniel & Janne Heifetz
It was with deep sadness and shock that we received the news of the passing of the great American soprano Carmen Balthrop. Carmen was the rarest of great artists. Her beauty, artistry, and glorious voice were equally matched by her warmth, humanity, and generosity of spirit. Her charismatic presence and energy affected all those around her, on stage and off stage. Carmen was a true American treasure, and her legacy will live on for generations through her recordings and the love and commitment of her hundreds of students from around the world.
Carmen and I met when we were Professors at the University of Maryland College Park School of Music more than 30 years ago. We immediately became close friends and colleagues, along with our two families. We performed together throughout the United States.
Our first concert together was a duo recital at Washington DC’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Carmen and I performed pieces for violin and soprano, and began an amazing and fulfilling artistic collaboration, which lasted for three decades. She was a uniquely creative and innovative artist. At the Kennedy Center, we premiered a transcription of the Vivaldi Concerto for Two Violins, in which Carmen sang the second violin part in scat! We went on to create such fun performances as dancing together on stage while she sang the first soprano part and I played the second on my violin in “A Real Slow Drag” from Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, the title role of which marked her historic Broadway debut.
Soon after founding the Heifetz Institute I asked Carmen to bring her creative and inspiring sensibilities to our teaching. She loved the vision of the Institute and, early on, worked with me in helping to establish the Heifetz Performance and Communication Training method. Carmen served as a major faculty member at the Institute for more than two decades!
The world has lost a special soul. Janne and I loved and respected Carmen Balthrop. We send her husband, Patrick, and his family our love and deepest condolences. – Daniel and Janne Heifetz
Carmen Balthrop in a master class at the Heifetz Institute in 2004. She may have been a singer, but Carmen was renowned for her unique coaching about stage presence to the Institute’s string players and pianists.