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Josh Lovell

Josh Lovell wearing a tuxedo in front of a wall of graffiti.
  • Category: Emerging Alumni Award
  • UVic degree: Bachelor of Music in Performance, 2015       
  • Current hometown: Vienna, Austria                                  
  • Birthplace: Victoria, BC

About Josh

Barely in his 30s, Josh Lovell is already a major player in the international classical music scene. Described by the Guardian as “a handsome-sounding tenor with a warm, liquid voice and easy high notes,” he studied at UVic’s School of Music from 2010 to 2014 before attending the University of Michigan on a full scholarship to complete his Masters of Voice Performance. 

The winner of numerous awards, including the 39th International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition, Josh is an ensemble member of the renowned Vienna opera house Wiener Staatsoper. He has performed all over Europe at prestigious venues such as Teatro alla Scala Milan, the Glyndebourne Festival (UK), Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Bolshoi Theatre, helping raise the profile of Canada on the international stage. He also maintains an important connection to his home, returning to perform with the Vancouver Symphony, Pacific Opera and the Victoria Symphony, where he continues to inspire future generations of performers.   

How did your experiences at UVic shape who you are and contribute to future successes?

My time at UVic rounded me as an individual. It wasn’t completely focused on my studies. There was time to make connections with colleagues and friends, and attend the many events that were going on around the campus. UVic really felt like a community while I studied there. Even though I grew up in Victoria, UVic felt like a different city, another country. It was a zone all unto itself where I felt welcome to take part in all that was offered and challenged to learn all that I could.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Within the world of classical singing, it’s really quite hard to be doing what I’m doing. That isn’t to say that other careers aren’t as challenging, but simply to say that having a career as an opera singer has many daily struggles, least of all having the talent and ability to make it in the career.

As a freelancing performing artist, the career is never a stable one. You work contract to contract, travelling from one opera house to the next. Many times this means travelling to a different country for each contract. A single contract may only last 2 weeks or it could be as long as 2 months.

As your experience builds with every single performance, so develops your voice and artistry. Because of this, there is no single defining moment of arrival; there is no exact moment of "making it." All you can hope for is that you develop well enough to be noticed by the most famous companies in order to be hired by them.

I was very fortunate to have been able to perform at a very high level since finishing my education. This entire journey goes back to UVic. None of this would have been possible without my teacher, Benjamin Butterfield.

What skills or traits are needed to be good at what you do?

First and foremost, you have to be able to sing and you have to be able to sing exceptionally well. You also have to have the stamina and physiology to be able to sing loudly enough to be heard over an orchestra. Not everyone knows this, but opera singers perform without a microphone, nor with any amplification. Only in an outdoor setting would there be microphones.

On top of the physical characteristics required for operatic singing, there are personal characteristics that are necessary. You need to be confident and willing to put yourself out there, to be creative and to be vulnerable in your singing. You also have to be willing to work very hard because this is a craft that requires practice and preparation each and every day. It never stops.

Finally, you need to love singing. I was told to be a singer you have to have the need to sing, it cannot simply be something that you enjoy doing. Personally, I sometimes find singing just as precious as eating or breathing. 

What is the best advice someone has given you?

I remember there was a period in my studies where I just wasn’t enjoying the process. Thankfully there was a teacher I was working with who said, you have to find love in the music. You have to find a way to be happy and to love what you’re doing because you’ll never have a career if you don’t. I think this advice is applicable to any career. You’ve got to love what you do. 

Do you have a mantra that you follow?

Always do something to the best of my ability, even on the days where I know that I will never be close to the best that I can be. 

Is there a food that you can’t resist?

Burgers! I absolutely love eating burgers. Victorians are blessed to have excellent burger joints. You’d think Europe would have restaurants making good burgers in every city just like in North America, but that isn't always the case. Thankfully there’s a great burger place right near where I live in Vienna.

About the Distinguished Alumni Awards

The UVic Distinguished Alumni Awards celebrate the remarkable achievements of UVic graduates.

Nominations for the 2024 awards are open now through Oct. 13, 2023.