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Performing Arts

Ballard Performing Arts Overview  

BPA Performing Arts and Theatre Banner
collage of band, choir, and orchestra photos

The Ballard Performing Art (BPA) Music and Theatre Department is lauded throughout the Northwest and beyond for its high level of musical and performance excellence and supported by the parent run Booster Club.

Ballard HS provides one of the most complete high school music programs in Seattle – offering instruction in voice, wind and string instruments spanning jazz to classical. The Theatre Program consistently presents best-in-class and now virtual plays and musicals.

The Ballard HS Music Program has gained regional and national acclaim for its outstanding ensembles and inspired performances. The Music Program includes over 300 students who participate in three concert bands, three concert orchestras, one concert choir, two treble choirs, percussion ensemble, two jazz bands, one jazz choir, fiddle ensemble and multiple chamber ensembles. Performances are held in the Earl Kelly Performing Arts Center.

Ballard High School Performing Arts Staff

We are fortunate at Ballard to have four top-rate musicians/coaches/teachers who work to provide the highest level of music making opportunities for our students.

Music & Theatre

Performing Arts Directors: Ms Rowley, Ms Fortune, Mr Gillespie, Mr Riley
Directors: Twin Spirit Day!

Ms. Elizabeth Fortune (Director of Orchestras), Jay Gillespie (Director of Bands), Ms. Courtney Rowley (Director of Choirs) and Mr. Shawn Riley (Director of Theatre) are caring individuals who have high standards for the Music and Theatre department and high expectations for every student involved in the program. Read more and hear from the BPA Directors below.

The top music ensembles have typically traveled to festivals and performances across the country and have won multiple awards and recognitions for their high level of music-making.

Highlights include Concert Choir and Advanced Chorale’s performance at Carnegie Hall for the Nationals for Top Choirs Festival, Chamber Orchestra’s performance at the National Orchestra Festival in Tampa, Jazz Band’s participation in Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington Competition, and the Wind Ensemble’s performance at the 2017 International Music festival at Carnegie Hall.

Typically each year, Ballard’s Music and Theatre programs combine to produce a full-scale musical theatre production. In recent years, Ballard’s musicals with Director of Theatre Shawn Riley, have been nominated for over 20 awards from the 5th Avenue High School Musical Theater Awards, including Best Overall Musical, Best Chorus, and Best Vocal Direction, and winning in the categories of Best Costumes (Urinetown, 2014 and Bye Bye Birdie, 2012) and Best Orchestra (Cabaret, 2011).

The Theatrical Season for 21-22 includes “Beauty and the Beast” and “A Midsummer Nights Dream“. The previous year with students remote the Playmakers presented “Greater Tuna” their first virtual production in history! Directed by Shawn Riley with editing by Gustavo Gutierrez.

Refer to the BHS Course Catalog for more information on courses offered as part of the Ballard Performing Arts. 

Ballard Choirs 2022-23

Are you interested in joining Ballard’s incredible choir program?  Next year’s Concert Choir and Advanced Chorale will hopefully be traveling to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall! 

Choir placements for next year’s choirs will happen in the spring, but if you are interested, sign up now when you fill out your schedule request form!  No experience necessary; a love of music is all you need. 

Find out more by watching this video put together by current and former choir students. Email Ms. Rowley at if you have any additional questions.

Performing Arts Directors

Performing Arts Directors: Ms Rowley, Ms Fortune, Mr Gillespie, Mr Riley on Zoom
Top Row: Mr. Shawn Riley, Ms. Elizabeth Fortune.
Bottom Row: Ms. Courtney Rowley, Mr. Jay Gillespie

BPA Booster Board Co-Presidents

Jeannette and Rachel

Jeannette Chen

Rachel Hart Rios

Performance Highlights


Subscribe to the Ballard Performing Arts YouTube channel where all our performances are uploaded!

Ballard Music Alumni

Ballard Music Alumni have attended many of the nation’s most prestigious performing arts schools and universities, including Manhattan School of Music, Berklee College of Music, The University of Michigan, Northwestern University, Oberlin College, The New School (NYC), The University of North Texas, Stanford University, The University of Oregon, The University of Washington, Cornish College of the Arts, Westminster Choir College, and Pacific Lutheran University.

Jean Smart Actress a Ballard HS Alunni

Get Connected!

If you are not receiving the school PTSA Weekly Newsletter sign up and select your Graduation Class and BPA Group to receive up-to-date information on programs, special events, meeting dates, fundraisers, and general information throughout the year.

You can find links on the Ballard Performing Arts website to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube