Oct. 9, 2023

Houston Grand Opera Appoints Colin Michael Brush as Director of the Sarah and Ernest Butler Houston Grand Opera Studio

Photo credit is Andrew Bogard and Courtesy of Houston Grand Opera
Brush to foster the future of the art form through his leadership of the company’s internationally known training program for emerging artists.

Houston Grand Opera (HGO) is proud to announce Colin Michael Brush as the incoming Director of the Sarah and Ernest Butler Houston Grand Opera Studio. He assumed the role on October 3.

In his new position, Brush will prepare the company’s Butler Studio artists for major careers in opera while building upon the program’s internationally recognized track record of success. He will oversee the artistic development of the program’s emerging artists as he leads initiatives to identify and recruit candidates for future HGO seasons, from within the U.S. and abroad.

“For generations now, the Butler Studio has readied brilliant young artists for careers on the great stages of the world, starting with our own,” says General Director and CEO Khori Dastoor. “Nothing is more important to our mission. We are thrilled to bring Colin Michael Brush to Houston, where he will use his multifaceted experience and expertise to nurture the growth of these remarkable artists. We will be charging him with expanding the Butler Studio’s reach as he scours the globe for the gifted singers who will see this peerless art form through the next century.”

Brush was selected for the position from a large pool of candidates for his wide-ranging, international industry experience, having spent years creating opportunities for outstanding artists in the field. He joins HGO from ADA Artists/UIA Talent in Berlin, where he has shepherded the careers of an impressive roster of talent in European and other international markets through mentoring, advocacy, and career guidance. Artists Brush has worked with include baritone Michael Mayes and soprano Jasmine Habersham.

He previously served as artistic administrator for Washington National Opera in Washington, D.C., where he helped plan mainstage operas and other performances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, with responsibilities including negotiating artist contracts, casting singers, holding auditions, and traveling extensively in search of talent.

“I am so passionate about this art form,” says Brush. “I am honored by the faith HGO has put in me to further its mission. Our choices today profoundly influence opera’s future. We must champion extraordinary new talents as we honor our traditions. Throughout my career, I have sought to prepare artists for not only their own success, but also the success of the operatic art. I can think of no better place to continue this work than with HGO in Houston.”

A former Bosch Foundation Fellow and the recipient of a Flausen arts research grant, Brush holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Vocal Performance from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Music degree in Opera from the University of Maryland. He speaks four languages.

The Butler Studio, formerly known as the HGO Studio, was established in 1977 to provide comprehensive career development as well as the highest quality training and a wide range of performance opportunities for young artists in the industry. In February 2023, the company announced that the HGO Studio had been renamed the Sarah and Ernest Butler Houston Grand Opera Studio, in honor of visionary couple Sarah and Ernest Butler’s creation of a new fund within the HGO Endowment valued at $22 million, the largest philanthropic investment in the 68-year history of the organization.

The emerging artists who train with the Butler Studio program each year are selected following a rigorous, highly competitive process. The 10 member artists who have joined HGO for its 2023-24 season were chosen from a record 1,000-plus applicants.

The Butler Studio is distinguished from many other young artist programs by the level of integration between Butler Studio members and mainstage artists and production teams. Since the program’s inception, Butler Studio artists have been granted major performance opportunities, working alongside renowned singers—among them Joyce DiDonato, Christine Goerke, Jamie Barton, Ryan McKinny, and many more program alumni who are now major stars—as well as renowned conductors, directors, and designers.

about the author
Catherine Matusow
Catherine Matusow is Director of Communications at Houston Grand Opera.