A Sam Houston State University student has been accepted into the Houston Grand Opera Young Artist Vocal Academy after a rigorous application process and extensive training in the music performance program.
Sophomore music major Brea Marshall was accepted into the Houston Grand Opera Undergraduate Program, a two week intensive program that allows her to attend master classes and work under prestigious opera singers.
The HGO undergraduate program is highly competitive. It receives 700 applications nationwide while only 16 singers are accepted each year.
Marshall has been involved in choir from a young age, though she never initially thought of her talent as a career path.
“We had a youth day at my church once a month and that’s when all of the kids would perform, sing or dance – I use to dread it when I was younger,” Marshall said. “My mom would push me to do something because I was so shy.”
Marshall eventually found her confidence in her talent and pursued it through various auditions in her hometown school choirs.
“I think I really started to love music with choir because it introduced the more classical side of things and I really started to understand technique,” Marshall said. “I didn’t really take classical music seriously until my junior year of high school. My senior year I auditioned for the all-state choir and I made first chair in the women’s choir.”
Marshall continued on with her drive and passion for music but eventually made the decision to pursue it professionally after her major successes in her high school career.
“I knew I loved music but there’s so much negativity with pursuing a career in music,” Marshall said. “I figured I love to do this but I always tried to look for an alternative back up plan. Nothing ever came up, and I wouldn’t be happy doing that because I just don’t get the same feeling that I do with music with any other type of career choice.”
SHSU offers three distinct choirs: the all-women’s choir, concert choir and the top collegiate choir, chorale choir. Marshall said her short time in these ensembles has shaped her knowledge of the art and helped her better understand the principles of technique.
“Choir in conjunction with my voice lessons really helps settle me with my music,” Marshall said. “At first it was kind of just a hobby but now it’s real. This is my career; it’s what I want to do, so it levels me.”
Marshall was eventually approached by her university vocal instructor Jammieca Mott, who introduced Marshall to the idea of auditioning for the Houston Grand Opera. Marshall was initially intimidated by the suggestion but then decided there was not reward without risk.
Marshall sent in recordings of an aria and a contrasting piece along with her resume, a head shot and a letter of recommendation only to wait for the letter from HGO.
“Waiting was the most frustrating and anxious part of the whole thing,” Marshall said. “The Houston Grand Opera is just one of those pillars, if the possibility of me getting in happened, I would be overwhelmed.”
Marshall was surprised by the acceptance into such a prestigious program but credits her successes to hard work and her willingness to take risks.
“It was a big shock for me but I think it encouraged me that taking risks is okay because the return may be the most amazing thing that can ever happen to you, you just have to be okay with putting yourself out there especially in the kind of business,” Marshall said.
Marshall is hopeful about her future endeavors in the field and believes this opportunity can lead to more possibilities for her career.
“Sometimes playing it safe may not get you where you want to go,” Marshall said. “Be okay with testing the waters or even diving in head first but you have to take every situation with grace.”