Beyond the Concert Hall: Olivia Cosio

Olivia Cosio on Show 278

Olivia Cosio on Show 278

Sometimes, music can express what nothing else can. 17-year-old mezzo soprano Olivia Cosio, who appeared on Show 278 in Boston’s Jordan Hall, understands music’s power to transcend. Growing up in San Francisco’s notoriously dangerous Tenderloin neighborhood, Olivia turned to music for the creativity and expression she needed to overcome adversity.

In addition to singing on From the Top, Olivia received the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award, a $10,000 scholarship given to extraordinary young musicians with financial need. Each recipient of the Award is required to design and complete an outreach project using their musical gifts.

For her project, Olivia chose to develop her ongoing work at San Francisco’s Breakthrough Collaborative, an after school mentoring and support program, teaching a two-month weekly music course to a group of middle school students.

I’m interested in exposing young people to classical music because I am not sure where I would be today if I had not found my passion for singing. I was fortunate enough to be inspired by music at a young age, so I feel it is my duty to introduce others to the joy music can bring.

During this experience, Olivia was often surprised by what she encountered. Teaching music to those who were learning about it for the first time required her to explain it in new and different ways. As a result, she gained a new level of understanding as well. In addition, she learned a lot about her students.

I was consistently blown away by their ability to quickly and fully absorb complex musical concepts in short periods of time. It was encouraging to witness their engrossment in the music lessons and excitement about performing. It proved that everyone has the capacity to love and learn about music!

As the students learned to read and perform, they also became more focused, open, and confident. Olivia felt that the class left each student with a lifelong love for music.

For the final performance, the students sang “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen.”

My favorite moment from my project was watching their first run-through of their set. Their joyous performance of a song, which was already popular amongst them before the class, showed their feeling of accomplishment and pride from performing music.

As a result of this experience, Olivia got clarity about her future.

I am certain that I want to make an impact on the arts community and keep a love for music thriving in communities everywhere.

Olivia is now a student at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, which was her first choice school. We are thrilled for Olivia, and look forward to how she’ll continue to take her music beyond the concert hall!

Watch this clip of Olivia teaching at the Breakthrough Collaborative.