We were delighted when our son, Andrew Bearden Brown, announced that he will be attending the Boston University Opera Institute beginning this September. Andrew will be pursuing a Performance Diploma in Opera and is certainly excited about what the next two years holds in store.
One of the key reasons Andrew chose the BU program is the chance to study under Dr. Lynn Eustis, a professional soprano and the author of The Singer’s Ego: Finding Balance Between Music and Life, among other works. Andrew was fortunate to attend her master classes during his years at the Royal College of Music in London. (BU and RCM have a reciprocal arrangement between faculty.)
When we see accomplished artists, writers, doctors, and business leaders, we so often forget that they usually stand on the shoulders of giants: their teachers. Dr. Eustis will be among the latest of an amazing group of teachers who have directed and nurtured Andrew’s musical career since he and his twin sister Claire were four-year-olds in the children’s choir at Trinity Episcopal Church in Staunton, Virginia. I am reminded everyday of what these educators have brought to Andrew’s life and to the world around them, and I want to take the time to recognize and thank them.
Carol Taylor — An award-winning choral director and organist at McGill University, Carol fell in love with the sound of tracker organs and then fell in love with George Taylor, who happened to build world-class tracker organs (with his partner John Boody) in little Staunton, Virginia. She was the choirmaster who was Andrew’s first teacher.
Bert Wirth — Bert was Andrew’s inspiring grade school music teacher at Christ Episcopal School in Rockville. Broadway star Brandon Victor Dixon, also a CES alumni, credits Bert with his start in musical theatre.
Canon Michael McCarthy — Andrew began his career as a treble at the Washington National Cathedral (WNC) in Mike’s very first class in 2003. That began a 20-year relationship as teacher, mentor, supporter, and colleague. Andrew currently works as a staff tenor at the Cathedral under Mike’s direction and most recently sang tenor solos in WNC’s production of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, where three of the soloists (Christine Buras, Max Potter, and Andrew) were alumni of the boy/girl chorister program of the cathedral.
Sarah Hoover — Now the Associate Dean for Innovation, Interdisciplinary Partnerships and Community Initiatives at Peabody Institute in Baltimore and one of Musical America’s 30 Music Professionals of 2019, Sarah taught Andrew voice lessons during his days as a treble at the Cathedral and has been an ongoing champion of his career.
Rosa Lamoreaux — Rosa has a “flawless sense of style and incandescent presence” when singing on stages around the world in opera, oratorio, chamber music and as a recitalist. She was another of Andrew’s voice teachers at WNC, and she helped Andrew not only with his vocal techniques but with his stage presence.
Diane Atherton — Another wonderful performer who has graced our lives and become a good family friend, Diane has sung to acclaim across the U.S. and throughout the U.K. and Europe. Diane was one of Andrew’s voice teachers who helped him transition from his treble to his tenor voice, not always an easy road to navigate.
Benjamin Hutto — Ben was a very dear teacher, mentor, and friend of Andrew’s who passed away in 2015. This is the same Ben Hutto who was given a shout out by Stephen Colbert on one of his first Late Night shows. In addition to casting Andrew in lead singing roles in several musicals during his high school years at St. Albans School, Ben hired Andrew while still in high school for his first professional job as a paid singer in the choir at St. John’s Lafayette Square.
Rosanne Conway — While piano was not Andrew’s first love, Rosanne taught both Andrew and Claire so much about music and life as their piano teacher during the middle and high school years. Rosanne is so dedicated to her students that she joined our family for an afternoon at Rick Jones piano to play dozens of instruments and help us pick out one that still graces our home.
Fred Jodry — Fred is the Director of Choral Activities at Brown University where he took a special interest in our Urban Studies major who also wanted to sing and learn as much as possible. Over the years Fred has become more than a teacher, but a supporter and mentor to Andrew, most recently giving him his first opportunity to sing the role of the Evangelist in the St. John Passion with the Schola Cantorum of Boston and the Providence Baroque Orchestra.
Arlene Cole — Recently retired after 50+ years teaching at Brown University, her Advanced Musicianship class ranked as Andrew’s favorite and most challenging class in the music department. She was consistently ranked among the top professors across the entire university.
Brad Fugate — Andrew’s voice teacher during his years at Brown, Dr. Fugate is also a musical scholar whose work has included study on the theoretical underpinnings of listeners’ reception of the singing voice (particularly that of the countertenor) and its relationship to cultural norms of gender and sexuality in three countries with distinctly different cultures—Britain, USA, and Japan.
Elizabeth Daniels — Liz has been the vocal coach extraordinaire who has worked closely with Andrew during his early professional career here in DC. She is lauded as one of the region’s top teachers of vocal technique, and we see her often at Andrew’s local performances, giving real-time feedback and encouragement.
Justin Lavender — Andrew was under Justin’s tutelage as vocal coach during his two years at the Royal College of Music in London. Justin — who was persuaded by none other than Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten to abandon nuclear engineering for music — has had an impressive career in opera and teaching.
Every single one of these teachers is part of Andrew today. Enjoy his rendition of Tu vivi, e punito from Handel’s Ariodante (HWV 33) opera and give thanks for all these amazing musicians contribute to so many students like Andrew, helping make our world a bit more beautiful.
More to come…
Image: Andrew Bearden Brown (© 2015 | Kristina Sherk Photography | http://www.Kristinasherk.com)
I loved reading your blog on mentors for many reasons. First because it is so exciting to follow Andrew’s career. Second, because I agree wholeheartedly that we all stand on the shoulders of our mentors and teachers. Who is there who could not name several people who shaped their path? Thank you for pointing that out.
Thanks, Sarah, for your comment. I appreciate the kind words about Andrew, and also knowing we share a perspective on the importance of teachers and mentors. Take care. DJB
Several people commented on the Facebook posting of this. I especially liked the one that said it was “a good reminder that we are all a rich soup of those who have impacted our lives.”
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