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The Y Report

Finding Her Voice

Ariana Abadia sings opera outside
Photo by Bradley Slade

Standing in line with her father at a school in her hometown of Quito, Ecuador, 17-year-old Ariana E. Abadía Flores (’24) couldn’t shake the feeling rising in her heart. She was there to enroll in engineering courses. But that wasn’t her dream. As they neared the front, Abadía stopped her father and blurted out, “I want to be a musician.” And so they stepped out of line and onto a path that eventually led her to BYU. 

Abadía first auditioned for a local music conservatory—applying her big voice to a Phantom of the Opera number, her brother accompanying on electric guitar. “Imagine going to a formal conservatory and [doing that],” she says with a laugh. 

After receiving an undergraduate degree in music education, singing for the Ecuadorian Sucre National Theatre, and studying English alongside her father in BYU Pathway, Abadía found herself seated in her first BYU class in Provo as an opera graduate student in 2021. 

Despite her preparations, Abadía says she felt “completely lost” amid the fast-spoken English from behind COVID masks. Plus, “people learn music differently [in the United States] than in Ecuador,” she says. 

“[But] she found resources to help her learn, and she studied hard,” recalls Stephen M. Jones (BMu ’83), her professor in that first course. “[And] I could feel she had learned by both study and by faith.” 

Before coming to BYU Abadía says she “[tried] to modify my voice to be like others’.” But her BYU instructors taught her to embrace the power of her own voice by singing a repertoire that fits her strengths. 

It’s important to accept your voice, Abadía says, because “Heavenly Father made us, and He can’t be wrong.”