Luka Kawabata | Vancouver, British Columbia

Nikkei-Canadian baritone Luka Kawabata was featured as a member of the Yulanda M. Faris Young Artist’s Program at Vancouver Opera in last season’s digital productions of The Music Shop as Dmitri and Carmen: Up Close and Personal as Escamillo.

While participating in the Banff Centre’s Opera in the 21st Century program, Luka has also been selected for Manitoba Opera’s Digital Emerging Artist Program. Recent credits include the title role in Don Giovanni, Lieutenant Audebert in Silent Night, and Tadeusz in the Canadian Premiere of Pasażerka (The Passenger) with the UBC Opera Ensemble, as well as Owl in Vancouver Opera/Pacific Opera Victoria’s school tour of The Flight of the Hummingbird. Luka has been featured in concert performances including St. John’s Passion, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s Peter Grimes.

He holds a Master of Music in Opera Performance from the University of British Columbia under the instruction of Peter Barcza.

Imposter - 詐欺師 - Bedragare

“Imposter - 詐欺師 - Bedragare” is recital series that explores the intersections of identity and looks to battle their socially-imposed imposter syndrome. As a first generation, queer person of colour, I’ve personally battled with oppression from multiple aspects of my identity. The goal of this recital series is to empower the multidimensionality of the human experience and find strength in uniqueness.

The featured works will include “Wakaremichi 別れ道 (Divided Path)”, a Japanese folk song composed by Takashi Inomoto with text by Rumi Kineta, as well as “När jag för mig själv i mörka skogen går (When I walk in the dark forest by myself)”, a Swedish folk song composed by Wilhelm Peterson-Berger.

These two songs linguistically represent two sides of my racial identity. The text of both songs speak of a journey to self-discovery, which alludes to my queer lived experience. These pieces are set to visuals of my personal past experiences, my exposure to my identity and the representation that the journey is ongoing. I do not wish for the pieces to stand alone, but to tell the story of a cultural union.

As the project can grow, there is room for future works to be added to the series, as seen fit. The setting of pieces from varying countries and language, which all represent themes of journey, growth and identity, allows for a balanced representation of my past and present lived experience.

Amidst a year of uncertainty, the Banff Centre’s “Opera in the 21st Century” Program has been a constant source of community, growth, and encouragement. My expectations at the start of this program were to expand my skills as an artist and have a place to make art. This program turned into so much more.

While social issues were given a spotlight this year, this program gave its participants the reassurance to explore their relationship with music and the license to tell our own stories. The community and mentorship turned into a continual source of support and resources. These never seemed like short-term relationships, as we shared our stories and experience every few months, and I’m excited to see how the relationships I’ve built will continue to be strengthened.

We were entrusted with the opportunity to create projects that value individuality and contribute to the operatic landscape to diversify the voice of its future. I trust that this program has shaped who I have become as an artist and how I will approach my art in the future.

Luka Kawabata

See more of Luka Kawabata's work here.




Luka Kawabata's residency was generously supported by the David Spencer Endowment Encouragement Fund.