About Us
The singing group where every voice counts

The Choir

Description: A singing group of adult mixed voices (SATB) offering quality instruction for all voices, with professional conducting and piano accompaniment. The wide variety of repertoire seeks to reflect the participants' areas of interest, such as including arrangements of folk songs from Ukraine, and serves to enrich the experience for all. The shared enjoyment of singing and continual learning means this great group will only grow better and better.

Choir 2010

Before Choir Practice, January 2013

This friendly group is ever improving its already fantastic tone, diction, rhythm, balance, harmonies and expression.We welcome new voices throughout the season and incorporate them into performances as they progress.

The Choir, September 2009
   In addition to the weekly Wednesday evening full of singing, individual coaching sessions are also made available to each singer for a four week run.

An established core of singers formed the choir Sound Opportunity in March of 2005 under the leadership of conductor and voice instructor Cheryl Balay. The group adds to the rich choral tradition already enjoyed in the city of Edmonton, Alberta. The singers influence the selection of varied repertoire and the chosen performance opportunities.

Choir at the Alberta Legislator, Christmas 2013
Rehearsal around the piano

The Conductor and Voice Instructor

   Cheryl Balay has over twenty years of experience working with choirs. She has conducted groups ranging in age from pre-schoolers, through children and teens, to adults (both mixed choir as well as men's and women's choruses) and senior citizens. She first studied music privately, taking exams with the Royal Conservatory of Music, then at the University of Alberta and at Alberta College. She majored in conducting for two years on scholarship in Kyiv, Ukraine at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Music and at the Veriovka Studio, as well as working with the Shchedryk Children's Choir during her music education abroad.

Cheryl studied voice first under Ruth New, then Alan Ord, Zinayivna Petrivna Buzyna, and Eva Bostrand. She is grateful for the influence of conductors Garth Worthington, Walter Rosiewich, Jean Woodrow, Dr. Larry Cook, Dr. Leonard Ratzlaff and Myron Shatulsky, among others. She has been honoured to be involved in National Festivals in Canada as a conductor in 1991, an Artistic Director in 2000 and one of the initial organizers for the National Ukrainian Centennial Celebration of 2005, working with amalgamated orchestras and choirs numbering hundreds of musicians. In addition to over 20 years as a conductor, she was concurrently a Cultural Director in Edmonton's Ukrainian community for 15 of those years. Since 1995 she's also been the conductor of Sturgeon Unity Singers, the premiere community choir in the Bon Accord-Gibbons area just north of Edmonton. She is familiar with a varied choral repertoire from classical to contemporary, but holds a special place in her heart for folk songs. She demonstrates her life-long love for learning and continues to share her passion for singing with students of all ages.

Book her for your choral workshop, voice coach or as a guest conductor today.

Phone or email Cheryl for information.

The Accompanist: Mathew Walton

A recent doctoral graduate of the University of Alberta, Ontario native Mathew Walton completed his undergraduate studies at Wilfrid Laurier University (‘08), and graduate degrees in performance (‘10) and musicology at the University of Ottawa (‘12). In 2013, he studied the performance of German lieder at the Franz-Schubert-Institut in Baden bei Wien, Austria. His areas of interest include the works of Franz Liszt, Frederic Rzewski, and Canadian composer John Burge. The winner of the University of Alberta’s 2013 concerto competition, he performed John Burge’s Prelude Variations with the University Symphony Orchestra in February, 2014. As part of his doctoral studies, Mathew recorded Burge’s Twenty-Four Preludes for Piano Solo, a work dedicated to him by the composer upon its publication in 2015. In addition to his solo work, Mathew is active as a collaborative pianist, and enjoys working with vocalists, instrumentalists, and choirs. During the 2014-2015 season, he served as the invited guest pianist for both the Alberta Youth Choir (AYC) and Alberta Children’s Choir North (ACC), and this summer he took part in MusiCamp Alberta as the collaborative staff pianist for nightly faculty recitals.

   In addition to his work as performer, Mathew maintains an active interest in musicology, and enjoys teaching numerous subjects at a post-secondary level. During the 2015-2016 academic year, he served as a full-time sabbatical replacement instructor at Grande Prairie Regional College, where he taught courses in music theory, aural skills, women in music, and music appreciation, in addition to teaching all piano students. Mathew is currently active as a sessional instructor at the University of Alberta, where is teaching Piano Literature I and II during the 2016-2017 year.
The Former Accompanist from 2005 to 2016: Robert Casgrain
An integral part of the choir and its success, the title "Accompanist" just didn't seem to do justice to the considerable talents which Bob brought to this group. In his role as Accompanist he often acted as a sectional leader, filled in for the Conductor when necessary, even set the tempo for many of the selections, and always enhanced the singing experiences with exquisite and supportive musicianship. Being with Sound Opportunity is just one of his many commitments as a vocal, instrumental and choral accompanist.   
   Bob was an early winner of the prestigious Johann Strauss Foundation Scholarship. He is also a piano instructor, having taught at the Alberta College Conservatory of Music since 1982.

The Choristers and Students

Any person, any age!
If you can speak, you can sing.
If you can hear, you can sing in tune!
If you already sing well, you can sing even better!

Not just tall tales, come out to our rehearsals or sign up for private voice lessons. Once you experience voice production with Cheryl Balay, you'll soon be singing her praises.

Students are accepted into Cheryl Balay's voice studio from the age of eight years old and up, while the choir Sound Opportunity is exclusively an adult group.


Carols, Alberta Legislature, Christmas 2012
   The singers in Sound Opportunity come from a variety of backgrounds, bringing with them great diversity and various vocal skill levels. The repertoire is challenging enough to ensure continual learning opportunities are given to each chorister, while the rehearsal process is complete enough to bring a level of comfort and confidence even to the newest singer. Solo opportunities are afforded throughout the season, where individual talents are showcased.



Repertoire for individual students is based on the syllabus from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada. It is augmented with additional selections chosen to suit each student's preferences and study needs, as well as to introduce them to songs, styles and languages which may initially be outside of their comfort zones. In addition to the classics, song choices often include additional contemporary, musical theatre, ballads, folk songs and practical performance selections such as national anthems and numbers appropriate for weddings, funerals, solos (for church, school, choir or family events), auditions, recitals and pure personal enjoyment.

Sound Opportunity Choir seeks its repertoire from varied sources. The chosen songs are suited to the voices in Sound Opportunity and selected with consideration of their thematic content, variety, levels of difficulty, enjoyment, learning opportunities and performance-specific needs.