A friend’s remembrance, and memorial details for countertenor Brian Asawa

Beloved world-renowned countertenor Brian Asawa was a vibrant part of the vocal world at large.  When he passed away in April, it was a shock to that global community, and tributes have been posted all over the web, chronicling his early rise, an ongoing passion for Baroque repertoire, and his recent mission to help and support younger artists, particularly through his management company, Asawa & Associates.  Our announcement is posted here, and excellent obituaries have been offered by the New York Times, San Francisco Classical Voice and many others.

A memorial service has been planned for Sunday, May 22 at 4pm, and is hosted by LA Opera.  See the bottom of this post for details, including where to park and enter. 

But as Brian was also a supportive member of the Lister community, we asked one of his dearest friends and performance partners, mezzo-soprano Diana Tash, if she wished to share some thoughts on this unique and lovable artist.  Many thanks to Diana for painting this beautiful picture of a dear friend:


asawa_brian_casualBrian was a burst of energy, second to none. Many of us have lots of friends, but I never saw anyone who knew as many people as Brian did, and who he was actually friends with. Brian could walk into a restaurant and by the time he left, he had 10 new close friends — friends who he would then follow up with and continue a friendship. That was unique.  Brian could light up a room, and he could make you light up a room even if you were not feeling up to it.

He was generous, and would give you the shirt off his back. He cared if someone had no work, and often tried to help, and for a singer, that is very unique. He was smart, clever, and had a capacity to bring you into the fold.  

He had his moments, as we all do, but I was always able to defuse any kind of uneasiness. That is probably on reason why we were so close.  We also had these voices that for some reason blended in a really unique way and could almost mimic each other’s timbre on specific notes, which is so unusual with a man and a woman. He was at my home often, and I always knew where he was because he was always singing, with that unmistakable timbre of his — so very beautiful and strong.

Since his passing on April 18, I have taken some time to sit back and watch old videos of his musical beginnings, and to rediscover what an amazing gift he had. His career was magnificent, and he got to experience things many singers hope for. But I loved that he never bragged about any of it. Because for Brian, it was all an adventure about singing and meeting people and loving people. The more people he would meet, the better, because there were always more people to care about.

Brian’s health issues were very frustrating for him. He missed being able to just be able to sing how he could sing, and as time went on, his body was not as strong as it had been. There are those in this world who have so much love to offer and so much radiance that they just burn so bright, but do not stay as long as we would wish. I think Brian was one of those people. He was a star that shone brilliantly, high and strong, and left us far too soon.

— Diana Tash


Memorial service this weekend

music_center_elevator_entranceA memorial for the late world-renowned countertenor, Brian Asawa, will be held at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at 4pm on Sunday, May 22, 2016. Please use the Music Center Banquet Hall entrance (next to Kendall’s Brasserie) at street level on Grand Ave and take the elevator to the 5th Floor Salon.

Parking: use the Music Center garage. Enter via southbound traffic, turning right into the garage from Grand Ave between First Street and Temple Street. The Event Parking rate is $9 upon entry.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to:

The Merola Opera Program Brian Asawa Fund: http://merola.org/home and click on the direct link or please call (415) 936-2311.

and/or

LA Opera: http://www.laopera.org/support_us/Donate-to-LA-Opera/ and note your donation is “in memory of Brian Asawa”.


Many of Brian’s recordings are available on Amazon, so you can hear this extraordinary talent for yourself.

3 thoughts on “A friend’s remembrance, and memorial details for countertenor Brian Asawa”

    • Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful thoughts with us, Diana. I’m sure the memorial service was gorgeous today — so sorry I couldn’t be there.

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