Hometown girl Chelsea Buyalos was asked to sing the National Anthem for the second year at the opening to the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox game in Maryland in early June.
Buyalos is a Thomas Dale graduate who has been singing for many years. “I’ve been around music since I was old enough to walk practically,” Buyalos said. “Teaching and performing music are big aspects of my life.”
What makes all this so amazing is that Buyalos has a rare condition, Goldenhar Syndrome. Buyalos was born with the Goldenhar, characterized by incomplete development of the ear, nose, the soft palate of the mouth or lips, usually on one side of the body. “When I was born my esophagus was not connected to my stomach,” Buyalos explained. “So, I had a loss of hearing and visual impairments on the right side of my body.” She went through many surgeries to try to repair her hearing.
“I have no inner ear,” she explained. “And after many surgeries, I said no more and so I have no hearing on the right side.” Ironically, music was still her calling in life. With the help of her grandmother, Buyalos began a love affair with opera at the age of four. This love blossomed and by the age of 11 she began formal training in Chester.
Despite the Goldenhar, Buyalos continued to pursue her musical inclinations and dreams. She was performing in high school and went on to pursue formal education in music. While still in high school, Buyalos made her operatic debut in Italy with Opera festival di Roma in their production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro.
So, music is second nature to the Chester native. In 2013, the Baltimore Orioles asked for auditions to sing the National Anthem at the opening of the games for that season. Buyalos sent in an audition tape and was chosen from 300 to 400 applicants to sing for the first time. So, this adventure was her second time performing at the opening of the game. “It’s an incredible feeling to walk onto the field and perform in front of more than 30,000 people,” Buyalos said. “It was an honor to be able to do this for our nation and I wanted to make sure it was done right.”
She said the first time she felt so small. “When you walk out on to the field, you feel so small with 30,000 people staring at you,” she shared. The second performance she said she knew where to stand and knew what to do. “I was very happy with the performance,” she shared.
She graduated Thomas Dale in 2007 and went on to study Vocal Performance at Peabody Conservatory of Music at John Hopkins University and received her BS. Recently, she completed her Master’s degree in Vocal Performance at the Peabody Conservatory. Since graduation, she has been very busy establishing her private studio. “I teach voice lessons and piano in Baltimore,” she shared. Along with her classical training, Buyalos has performed in many musicals such as “Annie,” “The King and I,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Oklahoma,” and “The Boyfriend.” She is an honored National Association for the Teachers of Singing (NATS) competitor, Peabody Scholarship recipient, and Bland Music Scholarship recipient. She has worked with the Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra on a spring and summer concert series. Buyalos has also been a soloist in concert works such Mozart’s “Requiem,” and Rutter’s “Requiem.”
Her latest project is a non-profit working to foster music education in her community as Vice-President of Mobile Music Now! Inc. beginning in 2012.
(http://www.mobilemusicnow.org/www.mobilemusicnow.org/Home.html) The organization has been teaching workshops in Georgia for two summers. “It’s a music camp for the age group five through 13,” she added. “We work with labs on vocal coaching and a string lab for guitar performances.” President LeeLee Hunter and Buyalos began the non-profit to share music education. They next leave early this month to work at the All Saint Angelican Church located in Peachtree City, Georgia.
While there, Mobile Music Now will perform a concert for the local community including classical, Broadway and beyond selections. “At camp we get to work with a wide range of children,” she shared. “It’s really fun to figure out how to work with each age group. She said her greatest reward is as a teacher. She feels that when a student retains the music lessons she has shared it is an epic win. “We practice, show them new musical lessons and when they retain it, that is my greatest joy,” she said. “When they come back and say ‘This is what I learned from you and I’ll never forget it’ then I’ve done my job.”
Her parents, James “Skip” and Pam Buyalos, still live in Chester and they travelled up just to hear her sing at the Baltimore Orioles game and catch a picture of their daughter. Buyalos’ heart will always be in Chester. “You can take the girl out of Chester, but you can’t take Chester out of the girl,” she smiled as she shared her love of her hometown.