After a summer abroad taking Italian and acting classes; regularly dining at an "amazing piazza"; and rehearsing for evening opera performances in Lucca, Italy, Nathan A. Pacheco (BM '05) wondered whether he could make this "splendid lifestyle" his profession.
"I absolutely loved traveling, meeting new people, and immersing myself in a new culture," says the 33-year-old singer. "I always wanted a career as a singer and composer, but it wasn't until I heard Elder Jeffrey Holland challenge us to pursue our dreams that I decided to fully follow my dream of vocal performance. I was attending BYU and felt he was speaking directly to me. This was an 'aha' moment where I knew I was getting an answer to my prayers."
Music has been a good decision. The vocalist has composed for and performed with renowned Greek pianist Yanni, signed with the Disney Pearl Series label, released a solo album, performed for Prince Charles at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., and been featured on two PBS specials. Earlier this summer he performed in front of enthusiastic crowds as he performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to celebrate Pioneer Day. His singing engagements have taken him across the globe.
Pacheco's love of music was nurtured as a freshman when he sang with then–music professor Mack J. Wilberg (BM '79) in the Men's Chorus. "That was the finest musical experience of my time at BYU," he says. "We all know Professor Wilberg has a serious gift, and he pulled out amazing musicality from every member of the 300-member chorus. Performing in his concerts was magical and filled with so much emotion. Even now it is hard to describe the incredible feelings I had while performing with him."
As a trained opera tenor, Pacheco also credits music professors Lawrence P. Vincent (BA '73) and Clayne W. Robison (BM '71) with enhancing his musical training at BYU. Upon graduation, the Virginia native continued his musical education in South America and Europe. Armed with a passion for romance languages, he studied in Brazil for more than two years, immersing himself in the language and culture of the country where his grandfather was born and where he served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He ultimately toured the country, performing classical music as well as the cultural music of Brazil.
After a series of auditions in Los Angeles and New York, Pacheco made a fortuitous connection with Yanni, who used Pacheco as one of his four Yanni Voices in a 100-concert tour throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It was a breakthrough opportunity. Pacheco was a featured soloist and often wrote lyrics for Yanni's composition.
"This was perfect," Pacheco says. "It fed my love of traveling, composing, and performing." A dedicated student of romance languages, he has learned to speak and compose in English, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish.
Although he loves opera, Pacheco also sees himself as a crossover artist. "I often incorporate the more relaxed styles of pop or folk singing," he explains. "Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban, big influences for me, use them, and I believe many people often find them more accessible than purely classical opera. I remember hearing Bocelli when I was in high school and absolutely loving how he would blend opera with pop."