Japanese-American countertenor Brian Asawa was born in Los Angeles on 1 October 1966. His musical studies began at UCSC with piano, but he later switched to singing, studying with Harlan Hokin. He transferred to UCLA, studying with Virginia Fox and Kari Windingstad, and then studied for a master's in early music interpretation with James Tyler, but didn't complete the course because his performing career began became busy, after he won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and an Adler Fellowship to the San Francisco Opera Merola Opera Program.
His professional opera debut was in Hans Werner Henze' Das verratene Meer at San Francisco Opera in 1991, and made his first opera appearance in New York City in 1992, and with Santa Fe Opera in 1993.
He was awarded a career grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation and became the first countertenor to win the Plácido Domingo Operalia International Opera Competition. He became Seattle Opera's Artist of the Year for 1996-7.
He sang for major opera companies in many countries, and also made a series of recordings, including four solo recital discs and, in 2014, a recording of duets with Diana Tash. He also set up an operatic artists' management agency, Asawa and Associates, in 2014.
Brian Asawa died of liver failure in Mission Hills, California, on 18 April 2016, aged forty-nine, following a long illness.
A selection of M&V articles about Brian Asawa
A straight line career path - Conductor Kenneth Montgomery talks to Maria Nockin about his life, his music and upcoming events
DVD Spotlight. Wonderfully varied - Monteverdi's 'Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria', reviewed by Robert Anderson. '... moving drama and notable accomplishment.'