Brian Downen, M.M.
Voice Area Coordinator, Diction, Choir
Brian Downen joined the music faculty of the University of Texas at El Paso in the fall of 2014, where he teaches applied voice, diction and is a conductor on the choral faculty. Originally from Sparta, Illinois, Brian Downen holds his B.S. in Music Education and 30 hours toward an M.A. in composition from Eastern Illinois University. He holds an M.M. and A.D. in vocal performance from Yale University.
Downen has performed extensively around the world as an operatic tenor. Highly regarded for his performances of the bel canto operatic repertoire, he has sung leading roles in more than 70 productions for opera houses in the U.S., Europe and Canada. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2016 in Roberto Devereux and has since returned as Triquet in Eugene Onegin and as understudy for the four servants in Les contes d’Hoffmann. Recent engagements include the New York City premieres of Hasse’s Piramo e Tisbe and Britten’s Owen Wingrave with Little Opera Theatre of New York and Tamino in The Magic Flute and Beppe in I Pagliacci with El Paso Opera.
Mr. Downen has performed the leading tenor roles in numerous productions of Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri, La Cenerentola and Il barbiere di Siviglia as well as Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Die Zauberflöte, La Traviata, Susannah, Così fan tutte and Don Pasquale for Dayton Opera, Knoxville Opera, Cleveland Opera, Columbus Opera, Eugene Opera, Edmonton Opera, Opera Birmingham, Mobile Opera, Anchorage Opera, Opera Omaha, Nevada Opera, the Caramoor Festival, Central City Opera, Opera Saratoga, Opera Delaware, Gotham Chamber Opera, and Pensacola Opera.
Equally sought as a concert soloist, Mr. Downen has sung—among other works— Messiah, Carmina Burana, The Creation, Elijah and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the El Paso Symphony, Delaware Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Pensacola Symphony, Syracuse Symphony, York Symphony, Greater Bridgeport Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, Florida Philharmonic, the Masterworks Chorale (in Carnegie Hall), the National Chorale (in Avery Fisher Hall) and Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
Other highlights of his performing career include singing the tenor solos in Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem for the Dajeon Philharmonic in Seoul, Korea, for a concert marking the 55th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War; Harlekin in Der Kaiser von Atlantis with Klangforum Wien and Opera Moderne at Maria Theresien Kaserne, a former Nazi military base in Vienna, Austria; and Damon in Acis and Galatea with the University of Texas at El Paso and Opera Bhutan in Bhutan’s capital city, Thimphu. This historic performance was the first-ever presentation of a Western opera in Bhutan.
Mr. Downen is also an active recitalist with recent appearances at Opera Company of Middlebury in Vermont and at New Mexico University and University of West Florida, where he also gave master classes.
In addition to art song and operatic repertoire, Mr. Downen has extensive experience performing and teaching popular genres of music. For seven years, he served as vocal music director, performer and arranger for the internationally known pop performing group, The Decatur Park Singers. During his tenure, he directed the group of 24 college-aged singer-dancers and the nine-piece instrumental ensemble in nearly 400 performances, arranged over 100 songs and co-produced seven of their albums.
For over twenty years, Downen has arranged songs and complete shows for competitive high school show choirs, including several award-winning groups throughout the United States. In 2011, he founded Innovative Music Camps for Singers and oversaw its annual summer show choir camp for 8 years.
During his time in Illinois, Downen was also the director of The Greater Decatur Chorale, a 100-voice community choir; The Young Park Singers, a 32-member high school show choir; and The Greater Decatur Youth Chorale. He also served on the adjunct voice faculty of Millikin University.
For more information, please visit www.briandownen.com.
Department of Music
Office: FFA M333
Office Phone: (915) 747-6352