Sarah Brown debuts in local opera
Four years in the music department at Cornerstone University prepared 2006 graduate Sarah Brown enough to land her several performances with Opera Grand Rapids last year.
Brown said she’s been singing for, “as long as I can remember.”
Her family attributed to her passion for music.
“All my sisters are musical in some way,” Brown said. “Whenever we get together, all of us girls, we will get together and sing harmonies and stuff- usually Disney stuff because that’s what we grew up on.”
Growing up, she was involved in music. She joined choir through elementary and middle school.
“I’ve basically been doing [music] ever since,” Brown said.
While at Cornerstone, Brown was a vocal performance major.
“If you’re a vocal performance major, you’re classically trained, studying more opera and art form,” Brown said.
However, initially she didn’t plan on pursuing opera.
“When I first got to college I … thought opera was kind of weird,” Brown said.
As a transfer student, she wasn’t sure what to expect when she got here.
“Dr. Hines was my professor, and he kind of challenged me and let me try some opera areas that were more challenging,” Brown said. “I guess his enthusiasm kind of wore off on me that opera could be pretty cool.”
She also realized that, as she became more interested in theater, that there was still acting involved in opera.
“There’s just as much acting with opera as music theater,” Brown said. “It’s just a different kind. And there’s a lot more singing, which I like, so it kind of worked out.”
She also took part in several musicals at Cornerstone, including Meet Me In St. Louie, The Boyfriend, The Old Maid and Pirates of Penzance.
“I was nominated for a Grand Award in Pirates [of Penzance],” Brown said.
Brown is thankful for the experience she had at Cornerstone.
“The theater work that I did while I was here, and obviously the music work, was very influential in how I became an artist,” Brown said.
Her professors played an important role as well.
“Jennifer Hunter and Randy Burghart were wonderful mentors and teachers and directors,” Brown said. “And they did a lot to shape what kind of actress I have become to this time.”
In 2005, Brown took part in their vocal competition and took third place; the next year, she took first. After graduation, she auditioned for the chorus and was cast in two productions.
“I will probably stay with opera for a while, just because my voice is better suited for opera,” Brown said. “Musical theater is really fun, and I wouldn’t rule it out for the future, but if I wanted to pursue a professional track, my best bet is with opera.”
Someday, she would like to move to New York to pursue a career in opera there.
“I could get a manager and have more opportunities,” Brown said. “I would just like to perform a lot more, as far as a goal goes.”
But she isn’t locked-in to any definite plan.
“I don’t have a final goal of what it means to be successful in the opera role,” Brown said. “That can just increase as God allows.”