Ms. Baltzer

Stepping Up to The Piano


Ms. Baltzer is working with the Women’s Choir on their parts in preparation for the Winter Concert.

Alli Himler, Staff Writer

Transitioning teachers is never an easy process for schools, so when Mrs. Kahn, who served for several years as Greater Latrobe’s Choral Director, decided it was time to move on from Greater Latrobe, Ms. Cynthia Baltzer was ready to accept the challenge of temporarily directing the Greater Latrobe Choirs to help ease the transition. 

Ms. Baltzer attended college at

Ms. Baltzer is working with the Altos in Women’s Choir in preparation for the Winter Concert.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania, majoring in Music Education, focusing mainly on piano and voice. She became a choral director and worked at Derry for 32 years, directing both elementary and middle school choirs. In addition, she also directed the school musicals for ten years. In line with her passion for musical theater, she worked for Stage Right, a local theatrical organization, where she shared her talents as a music director and a vocal coach for 15 years. Although retired, she still has several students who take private voice lessons. 

Throughout her career, Ms. Baltzer has accomplished many things, but one of her goals remained untouched. “I really wanted to work with a senior high chorus, and I knew that this particular choir was very good.” When the opportunity arose to temporarily conduct at Greater Latrobe, she couldn’t have been any more excited. She found this to be a perfect opportunity, especially given Latrobe’s stellar reputation in the musical arts. Although she’s worked with senior high students in theatrical settings, she knew that directing a choir of them was going to be a completely different experience. Every level of school (elementary, middle, and high school) poses unique challenges and opportunities, and she’s always wanted to direct a high school choir with a more mature sound and a stronger choral foundation. 

Although she is very excited about this opportunity, there are some challenges that quickly followed. In an interview, she stated, “The biggest challenge right now is the music. The music is extremely difficult. This is college-level music.” Mrs. Kahn was always urging her students to raise their standards and challenge themselves, and that allowed the students to become more familiar with difficult pieces of music that are rather unusual to high school settings. “I’m finding myself spending many extra hours practicing this music to get it to the point where I need it to be, and sometimes it’s still not always perfect.”  Ms. Baltzer’s passions lie within musical theater, and so she’s found the need to revisit some classical music techniques commonly found in this classical repertoire. “I was trained in classical music in college, which was many years ago, and my expertise is musical theater, not classical. So, I have to go back and revisit everything from 30 years ago.” Although she is faced with several challenges, there is no doubt that with some help from the students, she will overcome them and deliver a successful concert this winter. 

Before Mrs. Kahn’s departure, she did her best to teach the majority of the repertoire, but given the short time frame, there were a few pieces that were not covered. Ms. Baltzer’s favorite song is“Celebrate,” which will be performed at the River City Brass Concert on Dec. 13. “I’m actually going to be playing that piece, have the students sing it memorized, and possibly move to it!” She also mentioned that she’s excited to perform both of the River City Brass Pieces because they were introduced by her, not anyone else. “That’ll be the piece that I taught. No one else ever touched that. It’ll be my piece. I guess I’ll get to take credit for that.” She’s definitely looking forward to seeing what will be accomplished with that piece in particular, and working intensely with the students to perfect it.

The GLSD choirs are not the only thing that Ms. Baltzer is overseeing. She is also teaching piano labs. “I was very intrigued by the piano labs. I wanted a piano lab so badly at Derry for so many years.” She made several attempts to make it happen, but plans never fell through. “When I walked into this program, here’s a piano lab! I love my piano lab classes.” 

Ms. Baltzer’s time at Greater Latrobe has yet to be decided as a permanent director has not been found, but all students are very fortunate to have a director with so many talents to help aid in such an awkward transition.