Creating a Role for Herself: A Conversation with Soprano Tasha Koontz

“Tasha Koontz… showed off a sumptuous, gleaming lyric instrument in her hauntingly beautiful and evocative scene. Hearing her timbrally rich and even singing makes one hope that this soprano of promise can grow into a Verdian of distinction.”

-Parterre Box

Athlone Artists warmly welcomes Tasha Koontz to its roster of brilliant artists. A soprano who has lent her “accurate, powerful voice” (Broadway World) to a gallery of leading operatic ladies, Koontz has been recognized by Parterre Box for her “sumptuous, gleaming lyric instrument” and by Opera Wire for her “secure silvery high notes.” 

A favorite of the San Diego Opera, Tasha Koontz will return to her home company in the 2022-23 season to perform the roles of Nella in Gianni Schicchi and Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica. She also sings with them the role of Catrina in an orchestra workshop performance of El último sueño de Frida y Diego, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz and Latin GRAMMY® Award-winning composer Gabriela Lena Frank. 

Tasha was born in Hawaii with music in her heart. Though she didn’t grow up in a particularly musical household, her parents proudly supported her when she begged for piano lessons at age two and then asked to join the local children’s chorus at five. By then the family had moved to Chattaroy, Washington – a tiny town about an hour outside of Spokane. As a homeschooled student up until high school, choir became a welcome outlet for Tasha, and one that led her on a path to a life in music. The chorus toured Europe and South America, and Tasha fondly remembers singing Mass at the Vatican, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Notre Dame, and Argentina’s Teatro Colón. “I was the consummate choir nerd growing up,” says Tasha. “And it is still a huge passion of mine.”

After Tasha sang a solo in the choir’s Christmas concert at age twelve, her sister wisely encouraged her to pursue solo voice lessons with Darnelle Preston – one of the choir’s directors. Preston worked with Tasha through the end of high school, during which time Tasha’s love of all things music appreciated. She sang in musical theater productions and performed in a pop rock band and a jazz quintet. Her first professional gig came at fifteen, when she recorded the soundtrack for video game Myst IV. At Northwestern University, while she pursued her music degree, Tasha became Music Director for the a cappella ensemble Purple Haze, a group that was a finalist in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella and performed their ‘NSYNC medley at Alice Tully Hall.  Not exactly how she may have expected to make her Lincoln Center debut.

But above all the other musical genres, Tasha fell most deeply in love with classical music. “There’s something very special about voices singing on their own. Opera is steeped in its own tradition – and it is a challenge to find the balance between that tradition and giving your own voice to a role. I especially love bel canto roles – having the opportunity to vocally flex and play with the characters.”

After completing her undergraduate degree, Tasha studied with renowned soprano Carol Vaness at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, where she received her master’s degree.  She took to the competition circuit, winning acclaim from the Musical Merit Foundation, Jensen Foundation, La Jolla Symphony Young Artist Competition, Coeur d’Alene Symphony Competition, Belvedere Competition, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She performed with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, and she earned spots in the young artist programs of Opera on the Avalon, Sugar Creek and Central City. 

The chance to perform the role of High Priestess in Aïda with the Chicago Symphony and a steady stream of engagements from the San Diego Opera were forthcoming, along with concert performances with La Jolla Symphony and others. Before COVID-19 hit, Koontz was slated to debut with Palomar Symphony Orchestra (Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9), North Coast Symphony Orchestra (“Songs and Dances,” Songs by Lewis Carroll), MiraCosta Symphony Orchestra (Corigliano’s Fern Hill) and the Oregon Music Festival (Orff’sCarmina Burana). 

Instead of dwelling on the postponements, Tasha continued to create roles for herself. She continued to write and arrange everything from pop to Palestrina for the Episcopal church in San Diego where she acts as Music Director. She worked on submissions for her YouTube Channel, from arias to one-woman choral arrangements. She co-founded The ff Collective, a non-profit organization that aims to create performance opportunities for women and artists from underrepresented communities in Southern California, and with whom she performed the role of Violetta in a sold-out October 2021 concert production of La Traviata. And she began her partnership with Miguel Rodriguez and Athlone Artists to pursue her dream of an international operatic career.

“Music has always been such a huge part of my life,” Tasha says. “I am so looking forward to working with Miguel and Athlone Artists.  In a business where you’re constantly putting yourself forward, and learning, and growing, it is so affirming to have someone in your corner who is there to support you.  I am so grateful to add such a wonderful person to my team of people I can trust in this industry.”