Arts & Life, Features

Alumna Brittany Olivia Logan’s path to the opera leads to recent wins

Brittany Olivia Logan started singing as a way to become more extroverted, but little did she know that one day, she’d be an award-winning opera singer.

Logan, 28, is a Long Beach State alumna and is a student in the artist diploma degree program at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music.

The opera singer is a graduate of CSULB’s Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. After her time at CSULB, Logan received her master’s degree in music at CCM.

She recently won the Audience Choice Award for the Houston Grand Opera and is a semifinalist for the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions, which seeks to discover young opera performers. These auditions attract thousands of singers from over 30 districts and three countries. Logan is one of five winners from the Connecticut District and on top of being a semifinalist.

Brittany Olivia Logan is
Brittany Olivia Logan is a soprano and currently studies opera at University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. Photo courtesy of Brittany Olivia Logan.

“I was a super shy kid and my mom thought putting me in sports would help, but I would sit in the outfield playing and making flower bracelets,” Logan said. “Then one day, my mom heard me singing in the shower. She took me to an audition for a theater company in Orange County called Orange County Children’s Theatre and there they literally turned me into a musical monster.”

Until she was 15 years old, Logan would perform in musicals at the children’s theater. When she started high school, she was an active member of Pacifica’s show choir and continued to sing. After graduation, she planned to attend Fullerton College with the goal of becoming a marine biologist. It wasn’t until a music professor approached Logan that she would start her long journey filled with music education.

“I felt like music had my heart from the very beginning,” Logan said.

Logan, a soprano, was a member of Bob Cole’s Chamber Choir, where she got the opportunity travel to Europe twice for competitions. Being able to go abroad and study music is a “life changing experience” and influenced her decision to pursue grad school.

Yet, Logan admits that she doubted the choice to go to graduate school.

“I’m not going to lie though, I was so burnt out by the end of Cal State Long Beach just because the music department is so rigorous,” Logan said. “If people tell you being a music major is easy, it is not.”

According to Logan, she had a semester where she was enrolled in 23 units “just to stay on track.” On top of her music classes, she had a course load filled with general education classes, voice lessons, rehearsals and finding music to build her repertoire.

But, it was “worth it.”

Her professor, Katharin Rundus, who is part of the choral, vocal and opera studies at Bob Cole, insisted that Logan should further her education, so she began to look into the application process.

“She was always very dedicated and focused on her goal of making a career as a signer,” Rundus said. “She was delightful to work with and had many successful singing opportunities as a student here, even while balancing a heavy student workload and working almost full-time. I am delighted that she has continued with success after success after graduation, and I look forward to following her continuing career.”

For music students, deciding to apply to graduate school is an expensive and involved process. On top of application fees, Logan had to cover the cost of airfare, travel and hotels. Logan comes from a single-parent household and learned that applications were out of reach due to the expenses.

However, being a part of the Chamber Choir gave her the opportunity to be showcased and she was approached by Roberta Jenkins, a Long Beach humanitarian and philanthropist, who helped cover the costs of graduate school auditions and applications.

Logan applied for seven graduate programs, but when she got into University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music, she was “mind blown.”

“I knew that was the place to be, for me,” Logan said. “Once I knew I was in, I was like, ‘Alright, we’re going,’”

At CCM, Logan was quickly thrown into the full-time job that was getting a graduate degree in music. She valued the experience of being treated like a professional and nurtured like an artist, but claims that it is “not for the faint of heart.”

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Logan was forced to adapt to the switch from roaring crowds to live streamed performances with muted guests.

Brittany Olivia Logan performs at the Houston Grand Opera, 2021. Photo courtesy of Brittany Olivia Logan.
Brittany Olivia Logan performs at the Houston Grand Opera, 2021. Photo courtesy of Brittany Olivia Logan.
Brittany Olivia Logan performs at the Houston Grand Opera, 2021. Photo courtesy of Brittany Olivia Logan.
Brittany Olivia Logan performs at the Houston Grand Opera, 2021. Photo courtesy of Brittany Olivia Logan.

Opera performances look extremely different now, according to Logan. Performers are constantly tested for COVID-19, rehearsals are spaced 10 to 20 feet apart and even further from the pianist and Logan is forced to connect to a scene partner who is on the opposite side of the room.

“It definitely is really weird to get there and not hear the applause, finish and not hear applause and then go about your day,” Logan said. “It’s been a learning process for everyone in the performing arts.”

However, performances being shifted to a streaming experience was a great opportunity for members of Logan’s family to watch her perform for the first time.

Last spring, Logan graduated from her master’s program at CCM in a car on Zoom.

She has continued to adapt to virtual opera performances and audition season during these times and recorded audition tapes in her living room.

“It’s so crazy to even think about,” Logan said. “It’s crazy to know that my talent was able to show through a computer screen and mic with a ring light in front of me. It feels really good to know that my hard work is paying off.”

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