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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LETTER | A Young Canadian Opera Hopeful Says Dreams Do Come True

By Michael Vincent on January 25, 2017

Tenor William Ford Tenor (Photo: Gene Wu)
Tenor William Ford Tenor (Photo: Gene Wu)

In these dark mid-winter days full of media headlines outlining frightening political strife and disturbing violence around the world, it is easy to feel like crawling under a rock until summer arrives.

But this morning, a Facebook post written by Canadian Tenor William Ford has put everything into perspective.

Ford tells his inspiring journey from a small rural town in Ontario to the stage of Four Seasons Centre – a theatre he has spent much of his life dreaming about.

Here it is in full:

Today I spent roughly 14 hours at the Canadian Opera Company. Here is a little story.

My day began at 8:30 a.m. for a lightwalking call. Basically, a lightwalker is a person that stands in for a character in the production while they aim, focus, and adjust lighting and other technical details. This way they don’t tire out and extend the energy of the actual performers during rehearsal.

I grew up in small town, rural Ontario. I was blessed to be able to study music in a wind band during high school where I played French horn. My family is… unmusical. I didn’t hear my first full orchestra until maybe undergrad in music. I knew I wanted to be a performer, but didn’t really have any concept of what that was or meant.

Studying acting in my first year, my first lab was in technical lighting for theatre. There I lightwalked as well as assisted in gel sorting and some hanging and wiring. There was a real possibility that this was all that I would amount to in the arts field.

Fast forward to the beginning of my music training. I barely touched opera before my masters, and even then, it was almost my third and final degree — my diploma in operatic performance — before I truly grasped what opera singing really was. When I committed to my Masters, my father had me write out 3 possible goal plans. A dream goal, an if “everything goes well” goal, and finally a realistic “what are you going to do if not everything goes the way you want” goal. Needless to say, even without really understanding what opera was yet, singing on the COC stage was in my absolute dream goal.

My day began on the stage as a lightwalker, in the theatre that I dreamed to be in, doing the most realistic job I could. But! The story doesn’t end there.

Later that day, I decided to stay and listen to the first staged orchestra rehearsal for the upcoming production of Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung.” While listening to the 100 piece orchestra with my score in hand, like I have done so many times in the past four or so years, I stopped to think about what “highschool me” would think of who I have become. This is my life now, listening, studying, and understanding some of the most complex music; sitting in one of the best acoustical halls in the world, with one of the best operatic orchestras in North America. And I call this theatre my home. Mind. Blown. BUT! It does not end there!!!

Later that evening, I was going to be ON that stage, with that orchestra, with the most amazing singers in the world, SINGING and PERFORMING. THIS IS MY JOB!

Reflecting, I realized a couple of things today. The first being that you always have to dream. And have lots of dreams, because you never really know what will come true with a lot of hard work.

But the biggest thing I took away is that reaching the goal doesn’t always look like the dream it started. Today I got to experience three versions of the dream in one day. And honestly, they all felt just as fulfilling because they all stem from the same core; the theatre is where I belong. I want to be part of art creation and delivery. This helps me a lot moving forward. I have no idea what will happen next. Of course I have bigger dreams of performing, singing solo on the COC stage and in halls around the world. But who knows if they will come true.

But I will always be proud of what I have achieved, and as long as my highschool self can look at what I’ve done and think “WOW I only dreamed of this!” then I know I’m staying true to myself. Be it a singer, actor, photographer, or simply part of a team creating and sustaining art.

This is my home now, and I couldn’t be any happier!

Trust the childhood dream, and let it evolve with you. You never know what is going to happen.

*Special thanks to William Ford for graciously allowing us to share it.

Hear a sample of his talent here:

#LUDWIGVAN

Michael Vincent
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