Our Music Staff
Director of Music
Joel Rinsema joins First Plymouth as Music Director after a three-year hiatus from Church music. He has previously held a similar position at Church of the Beatitudes Congregational United Church of Christ in Phoenix, Arizona (the largest congregation in the Southwest Conference) for over 15 years. He also served Sunnyslope Presbyterian Church (Phoenix), and Scottsdale Congregational UCC for a combined total of over 25 years of church music ministry.
As Artistic Director of Kantorei, a Denver-based choral group, Joel M. Rinsema began his tenure in 2014 from the Grammy Award-winning Phoenix Chorale. Throughout his 23-year tenure with the Phoenix Chorale, he served in nearly every capacity with the organization including the last 15 years as President and CEO, and Assistant Conductor. He first joined the Phoenix Chorale as a singer in 1992. The Phoenix Chorale experienced tremendous artistic and organizational successes during this time. The organization enjoyed financial stability and growth, including doubling season subscription and single ticket sales and individual contributions over the past five years. As Assistant Conductor, Joel assisted in all aspects of artistic planning and leadership. He negotiated an ongoing recording contract with the prestigious U.K.-based Chandos Records, and Phoenix Chorale recordings have earned a total of eight Grammy nominations and two Grammy wins.
Joel is a passionate advocate for the professional choral art form, and he frequently consults with other choral arts organizations locally and around the country. Because of his leadership in his field, he received the Louis Botto Award for “Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal” from Chorus America, the industry’s advocacy, research, and leadership development organization for choruses, choral leaders, and singers.
In addition to his work with the Phoenix Chorale, Joel was the founding chorusmaster of the Arizona Musicfest Chorus and as a tenor soloist, performed across the United States and in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Joel is an accomplished conductor of major works for choir and orchestra. He was one of eighteen conductors chosen nationally through audition to participate in master classes and workshops presented by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association and Chorus America. He holds music degrees from Arizona State University and Whitworth University and considers Dr. Randi Von Ellefson, Dr. Donald Bailey, Jon Washburn and Charles Bruffy his most influential mentors.
In March of 2017, Joel began his tenure as the North American Choral Promotion Manager for Oxford University Press based in Oxford, England, United Kingdom.
Assistant Director of Music
Abby Ballinger, Associate Director of Music, Director of Children and Youth Music, and Handbells, received her Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Northern Colorado in 2013 with a Colorado K-12 Teacher Licensure, with Music K-12 endorsement. She currently teaches Grades 7-8 Band, Choir, and Orchestra at Sierra Middle School in the Parker School District.
She has served as a camp counselor and Music Leader at La Foret where she has counseled at “Voyager” Camps (middle school age) and “Grandparent and Me” Camp (ages 5 and up). She has also taught group and private piano lessons to students ages 3-9 with Tickled Ivories, has played in bell choirs, and has been an active member of the FP Chancel Choir.
Ricki received her Master of Music degree in Organ Performance with minor emphasis in Choral Conducting and her Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance with minor emphases in Choral Conducting and Piano Pedagogy both at University of Colorado at Boulder. She served the last 11 years as organist and Director of Music at Park Hill United Methodist Church and spent nine years at Calvary Baptist Church in Denver. Ricki also serves as accompanist for the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus, Artistic Director for the Metropolitan Choral Festival and has been a performing member of the Rocky Mountain Ringers bell choir. She has more than four decades experience contributing to worship services and choral accompanying and we are thrilled that she is joining our team.