A Countertenor Passes on his Experience


Countertenor Brian Asawa working with Orange County School of the Arts Classical Voice Conservatory students on November 17, 2014. Photo credit: Cheryl Walsh of Alt-Senior Photography.

Los Angeles, CA – Brian Asawa has had a busy autumn. According to the much-acclaimed countertenor, he’s “exploring new things” as his career moves beyond the two-decade mark.

However, this doesn’t mean he’s been quiet. Not by a long shot.

In early October, he performed with San Francisco Conservatory’s Kevin Korth as a guest soloist in LIEDER ALIVE’s Im Abendrot, a recital of lieder by Schubert and Strauss. “Spirits of the Air”, his new recording of Baroque classics with mezzo-soprano Diana Tash, was released on October 14th and lauded at a San Francisco Merola Opera Program showcase and live interview with Tash on November 7th. This was followed by a well-received Orange County School of the Arts Master Class in Santa Ana, CA on November 17th.

In addition to promotion for the new album, in-person and social media networking, and rigorous, self-imposed vocal training, Asawa also works with his own classical voice students in Los Angeles. His January appears to be filling out nicely, as well. He’s scheduled to sing at San Francisco Renaissance Voices’ Boar’s Head Winter Gala early in the month, followed by a January 29th performance at the Oxford Handbook of Voice Studies Gala Concert and Conference at alma mater UCLA’s College of Musicology. This event will feature Asawa and Diamanda Galas, amongst others.

Asawa revels in the variety.

“One of the most fulfilling aspects of being properly (vocally) trained is feeling technically secure. Through many years of teaching (by sopranos Jane Randolph, Virginia Fox, and UCLA’s Kari Windingstad), I’m able to draw from three, rich sources of wisdom and vocal technique mastery, which are integral to building my own sense of balance and technical security,” he says. In spite of being busy, or perhaps because of it, he adds: “With a healthy 22 year career and a teaching studio that I began in 2008, I feel a great sense of satisfaction when I’m able to pass along the technical and stylistic training that’s been imparted to me over the years. There’s a wonderful sense of empowerment when doing this work.”

Asawa is sympathetic when it comes to finding the right teacher.  However, he doesn’t believe it’s about finding the perfect teacher.  “It’s a fantasy to think that there can only be one great teacher. The ‘there can only be one’ maxim isn’t true. We’ve all seen world class voices compromised by mediocre training, but also mediocre voices backed by solid training.” In Asawa’s view, it’s on the singer to make a choice, in addition to all of it being 50% mental. “If you don’t have the confidence, if you’re so nervous that you can’t even access the breath, if you’re not able to pay attention to what your teacher is saying and then execute, it doesn’t matter how great your teacher might be. They won’t be able to help you.”

Changing gears, Asawa speaks to his recent Orange County School of the Arts Master Class experience. “It was such a thrill. I love being able to combine solid vocal technique in the form of breath and vowel, with a mastery of the Baroque style, and a strong sense of all other Classical genres through my years of operatic productions and concerts. Being able to boast a successful career in not only standard countertenor repertoire, but also the Classical, Romantic and Contemporary repertoires, is, well, wonderful. It allows me to offer comprehensive training to all vocal categories, especially in the master class setting. At OCSA, it was such an honor to impart some of the things I’ve been fortunate enough to gain over the years; the musicianship and finer details such as phrasing, diction, and coaching in foreign languages, keeping a focus on vocal health. I hope to repeat these kinds of experiences as often as possible.”

Learn more about Orange County School of the Arts Classical Voice Conservatory here.

Brian Asawa performs at the San Francisco Renaissance Voices’ Annual Boar’s Head Winter Gala on January 3rd and 4th, 2015.  San Francisco and Menlo Park, CA. Information and Tickets.

Brian Asawa performs at the Oxford Handbook of Voice Studies Gala Concert and Conference on January 29, 2015 at 7:30PM. Schoenberg Hall, UCLA.  Los Angeles, CA.


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