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Brian Thorsett

Brian Thorsett, Associate Professor - Voice

Brian Thorsett, Associate Professor - Voice
Brian Thorsett, Associate Professor - Voice

School of Performing Arts
242-E Squires (0138)
290 College Avenue
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-5335 | voice@vt.edu

Hailed as “a strikingly gifted tenor, with a deeply moving, unblemished voice” (sfmusicjournal.com), tenor Brian Thorsett excels in opera, oratorio and recital across the world. Since taking to the stage, he has been seen and heard in over 100 diverse operatic roles, ranging from Monteverdi to Britten, back to Rameau and ahead again to works composed specifically for his talents. As a concert singer, he fosters a stylistically diversified repertoire of over 250 works, which has taken him to concert halls across the US and Europe. 

An avid recitalist, Thorsett is closely associated with expanding the vocal-chamber genre, and has been involved in premieres and commissions of Ian Venables, Stacy Garrop, David Conte, Scott Gendel, Michael Scherperel, Peter Josheff, Shinji Eshima, Gordon Getty, Michel Bosc, Eric Choate and Noah Luna among many others. Recent  projects include the premiere of Ian Venables The Last Invocation and Christopher Stark’s Scream. 

Thorsett has also been heard in recordings, commercials and movies as the voice for SoundIron’s library Voice of Rapture: Tenor. His CD releases include song cycles of David Conte and Scott Gendel’s Barbara Allen. He is a graduate of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, Glimmerglass Opera’s Young American Artist program, American Bach Soloists’ Academy, the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme at Aldeburgh, England and spent two summers at the Music Academy of the West. He is currently Associate Professor of Voice at Virginia Tech’s School of Performing Arts and served on the faculties as Lecturer at UC Berkeley and Santa Clara University. 

  • Historically Informed Performance: Baroque and Early Classical, specializing in works of Bach, Handel and Monteverdi
  • Commission and Premiere of new vocal-chamber works,  
  • The Musical World and Songs of Frank E. Tours
  • Historically Informed Performance: Broadway 1900-1920
  • Standard Operatic and Recital literature
  • Artist Diploma in Vocal Performance, San Francisco Conservatory, 2004
  • Master of Music in Opera Performance, San Francisco Conservatory, 2003
  • Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance, Santa Clara University, 2000
  • Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, Santa Clara University, 2000
 
  • Vocal Fellow, American Bach Soloists, 2013
  • Vocal Fellow, Britten-Pears Program, Aldeburgh, England 2008
  • Young American Artist, Glimmerglass Opera Festival, 2007
  • Merola Training Program, San Francisco Opera Center, 2006
  • Vocal Fellow, Music Academy of the West, 2004-5
  • Young Artist, OperaWorks! 2002
  • Vocal Fellow, Lake Placid Vocal Institute, 2000
  • American Guild of Musical Artists
  • National Association of Teachers of Singing
  • Judging Panel – Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra Soloists Competition
  • Founding Member – Theatre Comique (San Francisco) 
  • College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarship Award 2019

Thorsett, Brian with John Churchwell, piano and Emil Miland, ‘cello. Everyone Sang: The Vocal Music of David Conte. Featured soloist on American Death Ballads and Love Songs. Arsis: Fenton, MO. Released June 2018 on CD and digital platforms.

Thorsett, Brian; Sarah Brailey; Santa Clara Chorale and San Jose Chamber Orchestra with Scot Hannah-Weir, conductor. Scott Gendel Barbara Allen. Santa Clara, CA: Audio PRO Group. Recorded May 11-12.

Thorsett, Brian with Simon Lambros, composer. “Le Tourmente from soundtrack to The Tormented. Blue Monkey Films, Tim Pickett, director. Recorded November 2016; Released 2017.

Thorsett, Brian with Carlos Estella, composer. “Amor Aeternus,” stock music for soundtrack. www.motionelements.com

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Nicholas McGegan, conductor. Season Highlights 2014-2015. Berkeley, CA. Swineshead Productions

Garcia, Juan Carlos. GALAHAD - El Camino del Discipulo. Canary Islands: Pulsar Studios.

Thorsett, Brian. Voice of Rapture: Tenor. Brentwood, CA: Soundiron Studios.   

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale, Nicholas McGegan, conductor. Handel: Atalanta. Berkeley, CA: Philharmonia Baroque Productions.

New Trinity Baroque, Pedrag Gosta, director. Baroque Christmas. Atlanta, GA: Edition Lilac.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale, Nicholas McGegan, conductor. Beethoven: Symphony 9; Opferlied. Berkeley, CA: Philharmonia Baroque Productions. 

Name a play, film, or recording that has influenced you and that you would recommend to others. Share why you made this selection.

One of the first recordings I listened to obsessively was Fritz Wunderlich singing The Magic Flute. It was my first opera (after only 8 lessons... I was dreadful and would be happy to regale you with charming stories of my debut). The sublime perfection of his voice and delivery of text were a beacon as I stumbled blindly through this difficult role. I would heartily recommend anything Wunderlich sings; he creates the most unique soundworld of any singer.

 When do you first remember making the decision to go into the arts?  What were the circumstances?

With degrees in math and piano, I originally wanted to be a statistican or an actuary, with music as a hobby. After graduating I went directly into the workforce in component distribution (which is as exciting as it sounds). I felt such a void, with so little music in my life, that I was then compelled to go back to school and become a singer. All the good in my life has sprung from that choice.

What is the most important quality for any student in the performing arts to cultivate?

Intellectual curiousity is my favorite quality in a student or colleague. With this attribute, one is constantly evolving and refreshing one's career path. It is an important facet for anyone taking on a life in music; the broader an artist's knowledge, the more opportunities will present themselves. 

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